AFTER claiming life in the North-East has gone backwards in the past 15 years, a woman has stepped into politics to try to help boost the economy.

Keller Fong, or Xu Fang to give her Chinese name, was announced as the Brexit Party’s parliamentary candidate for Hexham and has vowed to “change the face of politics” if elected.

Keller, who lives in Corbridge with her husband Tony Dodds, said she would fight for investment into the constituency after she was left shocked at the region’s decline since leaving Wylam in 2003. Both working in the gas and oil industry, she and her husband moved away 15 years ago for work purposes but returned to Tynedale in 2017.

Keller said: “Coming back after 15 years, we were dismayed to see how the area has gone backwards.

“There’s more potholes in the roads, slow wi-fi and the trains are so slow. Northumberland has so much talent in industries such as steel making and engineering, and it’s a beautiful county, but it feels so forgotten and neglected which is such a massive shame.”

Outlining her manifesto, Keller also vowed to work with small businesses to improve their prospects.

She said: “Firstly, the Brexit Party will get a clean Brexit with WTO terms and, secondly, we will restore the trust and democracy into politics. Thirdly, we will change the two party system and change politics for the good, and we want to reunite communities and get some work done and invest in the region.”

Keller will go up against Labour candidate Penny Grennan as they both try to usurp current MP Guy Opperman from the hotseat – a tough ask given that the constituency has been a Conservative stronghold for decades.

But she was buoyed by her party’s recent success in the European elections, and had confidence in her ability to get things done. She said: “I still believe that we can change the two party system and people want change, and I think more people can see which party will work.

“I am so passionate about this place and I am optimistic that eventually we can win. I do understand that I have a huge challenge, but I’m hopeful and I want to work with everybody from small businesses to pensioners and younger people.”

“I’m hard-working, young and energetic and, because I’m not working, I can dedicate all my efforts into getting things done.”