Labour swaps Ian Austin for Melanie Dudley in Dudley North

© Twitter/@melanie_dudley

Labour’s new candidate in Dudley North has been picked: Melanie Dudley is set to replace Ian Austin in the West Midlands seat.

Commenting on the result, Dudley tweeted: “I am really pleased to announce I have been selected to be the Labour candidate for Dudley North. Fighting for the town I was born and grew up in.”

The newly selected former assistant chief executive of Sandwell Council is considered to be on the left of the Labour Party. She is from the nearby constituency of Sutton Coldfield, but was born and grew up in Dudley.

She left Sandwell Council in 2016, saying she had been a victim of “sustained, damaging and painful” bullying from a Labour councillor who was suspended and found to have broken the council code of conduct.

Dudley was chosen on Saturday by a panel, via the new emergency selection procedures, from an all-women shortlist comprising Sandwell councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Birmingham councillor Mariam Khan and Bristol councillor Carole Johnson.

Austin has represented the seat as an Independent MP since February earlier this year, when he quit the Labour Party citing an internal “culture of extremism, antisemitism and intolerance”. His majority dropped in 2017 to just 22 votes.

Earlier this week, Austin told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Jeremy Corbyn was “unfit to lead our country” and urged “decent, traditional patriotic Labour voters” to vote for Boris Johnson at the upcoming election.

The extremely marginal seat of Dudley North voted 72% in favour of Leave in the 2016 EU referendum. Dudley will be up against candidates from the Conservatives, Brexit Party, Greens and Lib Dems.

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