THE Liberal Democrats have announced that current Mayor of Bath Dine Romero will be their challenger against Jacob Rees-Mogg - who has held the North Somerset seat since 2010 - at the upcoming general election.

Ms Romero has been the councillor for Southdown on Bath and North East Somerset Council since 2003 and was leader of the council until 2021. She is the 796th Mayor of Bath. 

Now she has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the new North East Somerset and Hanham constituency, which will contain about half of the current North East Somerset constituency and the Bristol suburb of Hanham which is currently part of the Kingswood constituency.

Ms Romero said: “I’m thrilled to be selected as the Lib Dem candidate for the North East Somerset and Hanham constituency.

“Unlike other parties, the Lib Dems work hard and keep in touch all year round. We take the time to listen to people’s concerns and be their voice.

“For over 20 years I’ve been a voice for local people at the BANES council — and now I have an opportunity to be a voice for us in parliament.”

As the current chair of the council’s children, adults, health and wellbeing scrutiny panel, Ms Romero has launched an initiative to explore how the council and other bodies can do more to tackle knife crime among young people. A Liberal Democrat statement said that, alongside tackling knife crime, Ms Romero had three priorities: improved access to NHS and social care services, tackling the cost of living crisis, and campaigning for better local bus services.

Ms Romero was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Kingswood in 2019, coming third behind the Tories and Labour with 6.9% of the vote. In the recent byelection in the seat, the Liberal Democrats stood a different candidate and lost their deposit amid an 11.5% swing to Labour.

North East Somerset has been represented by prominent Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg since he defeated incumbent Dan Norris — who is now the West of England Metro Mayor — in 2010. Mr Rees-Mogg currently has a majority of almost 15,000, having won just over 50% of the vote in 2019. But the election also saw a 13.8% swing to the Liberal Democrats, putting them only two percentage points behind Labour the seat.

The Liberal Democrats are hoping for a result which reflects May’s local elections where the Conservatives were “wiped out” in North East Somerset, and left with only three seats on the council — only one of which is in the area covered by the new constituency.

Labour are yet to select a candidate for North East Somerset and Hanham but Mr Norris is among those who have thrown their hat into the ring.

No date for the general election has yet been set but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indicated it will be in the second half of 2024. It legally must be held by January 2025.