A County Durham Tory has been urged to stay in the region despite moves to relocate to a safer seat ahead of the next General Election. 

Richard Holden became the fourth person to serve as Conservative Party chair in just over 12 months earlier this week when he was promoted to the role by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

An MP from the so-called red wall of former Labour heartlands which turned Tory in 2019, he became the first ever Conservative politician to represent the North West Durham constituency after receiving a vote majority of over 1,000. 

But he faces a search for a new seat, with his constituency due to be abolished at the next election due to local boundary changes - a decision he called “deeply disappointing”. 

Appearing on LBC earlier this week, he faced questions about the prospect of the Tory chairman being left without a seat. “I’ll go through the same selection process as anybody else,” he said.

He added that he would continue to represent the constituency until the next election.

“Until that point, I will continue to do everything I can to represent the people of North West Durham.”

But Mr Holden has already suffered a setback in his search, as he was defeated by Charlie Dewhirst in the running to become the Conservative candidate for the Bridlington and the Wolds constituency in East Yorkshire earlier this month. 

Dewhirst, the current chief policy adviser to the National Pig Association, is believed to have won around 80 per cent of the vote, the Conservative Home website reported. 

Now, the MP has been accused of trying to flee the region in favour of a safer Conservative seat elsewhere in the country.

Sam Rushworth, Labour’s Candidate for Bishop Auckland, said: “Richard Holden should put his money where his mouth is and fight in County Durham.

“People in Crook, Tow Law and Weardale Durham want an MP that will spend all of their time standing up for them. Not someone who has got himself promoted in the hope of running away to a safer seat.”

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But Mr Holden played down any suggestion he has already checked out of his role as the area’s MP and insisted he remains committed to the community. 

He said: "I’ll continue to fight for everyone in North West Durham from Willington to Ebchester and Burnopfield to Lanehead every day until the next General Election as I have every day since I was elected.

“Second rate political hacks from the divided Labour Party can play politics as much as they like - and it’s clear the Labour Party is terrified of the prospect of me running in Consett and Blaydon, North Durham, or the City of Durham and elsewhere with my strong record of local delivery, visibility and accountability.”