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Constituency Profile - North West Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 15:52 26 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:39 27 April 2017

Sir Henry Bellingham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Sir Henry Bellingham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2015

Apart from one four-year blip in New Labour’s 1990s heydays, North West Norfolk has remained true blue for donkey’s years.

A young Henry Bellingham MP joining protesting constituents at Clenchwarton, in 1993. Picture: EDP LibraryA young Henry Bellingham MP joining protesting constituents at Clenchwarton, in 1993. Picture: EDP Library

Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, celebrated his election victories in the Duke’s Head Hotel, on King’s Lynn’s Tuesday Market Place, in the 1700s.

Sitting MP Sir Henry Bellingham has been raising a glass after all but one of the elections he has contested since he was first elected in 1983.

MORE - Previous election results for North West Norfolk

If Brexit is the only issue this time around, you might see a pro-Brexit MP as a shoo-in for a pro-Brexit constitueency he has held for all but four of the last 34 years.

But Brexit has several potential fault lines where North West Norfolk is concerned.

Farmers who are the backbone of the local economy stand to lose subsidy payments when we leave the EU. Will the Tories pledge to keep them in place, or might some of the rural vote baulk and vote tactically for a remainer?

MORE - Migrant workers vital for farms and care sector

While many EU citizens resident in West Norfolk will be enable to vote, many farming-related businesses in the area feel they would be unable to operate without migrant labour, much of it drawn from eastern European communities in King’s Lynn and nearby towns.

As yet they still have no concrete assurance that they will be allowed to remain post-Brexit. All the government has said up until now is it depends how the rest of the EU proposes to treat Britons living abroad.

MORE - Foreign nurses needed reassuring over Brexit

Another employer which depends on foreign labour is the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, whose financial problems in recent years have stemmed from having to pay expensive agency workers because it has not being able to recruit enough permanent staff.

While the Brexit bus almost certainly won’t bring another £350m a week to the NHS, health chiefs hope it won’t be giving nurses from Portugal and other EU countries a one way ticket home.

MORE: Will our fishing fleet be sold down the river in Brexit talks?

Down at the Fisher Fleet, they reckon every fisherman supports another 10 jobs ashore. Our fishermen and their families have seen the Common Fisheries Policy devastate their industry and hand their seas to foreign boats and quota mongers.

Now they fear instead of getting their waters and their fish back, they’ll be sold down the river as a bargaining chip once negotiations begin in earnest.

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