Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Calum Kerr has launched his campaign to try to thwart John Lamont’s latest attempt to claim the seat for the Conservatives.
The Borders seat is one of almost a dozen across Scotland identified by pollsters as potential Tory gains, but the Scottish National Party MP believes his record over the last two years will bolster his efforts to see off this latest challenge.
The Galashiels-born 45-year-old was joined by dozens of SNP activists from across the Borders for his campaign launch in Kelso Town Square on Saturday.
He said: “Our campaign will be positive, energetic and engaging.
“We’ll be reaching out at a grass-roots level to people all over the Borders as I seek re-election based on my commitment to always speak up for the interests of the region.
“Given the relentlessly negative single-issue campaign the Tories are running, it was a delight to be in sunny Kelso with SNP activists, of all ages and backgrounds, to launch my campaign.
“Kelso is the perfect location – not just because my mum and dad met at Kelso High School – but because when you look at a beautiful Borders towns like this, and consider the context of this election, with the enormous challenges of Brexit on the horizon, you realise what is at stake over the coming weeks.
“The big threat to our towns, and our rural way of life, is Brexit.
“That’s why we need an MP who will be down in Westminster fighting our corner on the issues that really matter.”
“A hard Brexit will put at risk sectors that are absolutely vital to our Borders economy, such as farming, food and drink, and tourism.
“Our textile exports already operate in a competitive market, particularly against Italian manufacturers.
“What’s the future for them if we end up with a hard Brexit deal? The people of the Borders deserve answers.”
He won the seat, held in various forms by the Liberal Democrats and the Libersals before them for 40 years, from Michael Moore in 2015, with 20,145 votes, just ahead of Mr Lamont’s 19,817 but almost double Mr Moore’s 10,294.
This time round, besides Mr Lamont, 41, of Coldstream, the seat is also being contested by Caroline Burgess, 36, of Edinburgh, for the Lib Dems, and Ian Davidson, 66, of Glasgow, for Labour.
Mr Kerr, a former Peebles High School student, added: “Since I was elected two years ago, I’ve made real progress on issues like broadband and mobile connectivity, and I’ve played a leading role in the debate about what our rural economy needs to thrive.
“We need someone challenging the Government on the really important issues, who won’t be afraid to speak up in defence of our region.
“Now, more than ever, is the time to vote for an MP who will hold the UK Government to account and always put the Borders first.”