Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to visit Carlisle and west Cumbria next week
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is heading to Cumbria as his party draws early battle lines in their bid to take back two of the county's parliamentary seats.
Mr Corbyn is setting off on a national tour targeting dozens of Conservative-held seats across England and Wales - including Carlisle and Copeland - as they set their stalls out early ahead of the next General Election.
It has been confirmed by the Labour Party that Mr Corbyn will be in Carlisle and Whitehaven on Wednesday to speak to supporters. However, exact times and locations have yet to be released.
Locally, Labour have made it their goal to take back the Carlisle constituency from the Tories who won it in 2010 with current MP John Stevenson.
He secured his victory in June's election with 21,472 votes, while Labour's candidate Ruth Alcroft won 18,873. Mr Stevenson's majority was reduced by 175 votes to 2,599.
With no General Election on the horizon immediately Labour is hoping they can build some early momentum with Mr Corbyn already admitting his party is in “permanent campaign mode”.
Carlisle Labour Party chairwoman Elsie Martlew said she believes Mr Corbyn will get a good reception in Carlisle.
"I know he is on a national tour and he will be very, very welcome in Carlisle," she said.
"Our manifesto really hit a cord with people throughout the country, people are fed up of austerity. Since 2010 our society has become more divided.
"Since 2010 public sector workers, who the Government say are essential, when it comes to paying them they have had a real-terms pay cut.
"He will get a rapturous response.
"We are turning up the heat nationally and locally. Hopefully there will be a General Election and a new Government."
Mr Stevenson said the impending visit didn't put him under any pressure "whatsoever".
"Jeremy Corbyn is very welcome to come to Carlisle and I hope he enjoys the sights.
"But I don't think there'll be a General Election any time soon. I don't think the people of this country wish for there to be a General Election.
"It's more important to get on with dealing with the implications of Brexit."
A Labour Party spokesman said that while in Cumbria Mr Corbyn will be meeting local people and talking to them about a host of issues, including the issue of the cost of living.
The spokesman added: "Mr Corbyn wants to learn more about some of the key issues that are going on in the area."
The Labour leader last visited Carlisle at the beginning of June when he spoke at the County Hotel, Botchergate. He had been due to speak at an NHS demo in the city on the same day, but this was cancelled following a terror attack in London a day earlier.
Despite it being a last-minute small meeting with invited guests more than 100 people gathered outside to get a glimpse of the politician.
Today Corbyn started his national tour at a hospital in Truro, Cornwall and followed it up with a rally in Camborne and Redruth.
Mr Corbyn’s whirlwind tour will be matched by visits for shadow cabinet members to a total of 100 marginal constituencies across England, Scotland and Wales.