THE chairman of the Conservative Party has pledged “ten years of renewal” and thrown his support behind “local champion” Joe Miller.

James Cleverly visited The Argus after a day of campaigning in the wind and rain with the current councillor for the Rottingdean Coastal ward.

Mr Cleverly oversees the selection of party candidates and plays a key role in forming Conservative policy. The party’s candidate for Brighton Kemptown, Cllr Joe Miller, is hoping to unseat Labour incumbent Lloyd Russell-Moyle in the December 12 election.

Mr Cleverly said: “I’m looking whether they are a good campaigner? Are they campaigning on the right issues? Will they be a good voice for local people when they get to parliament?

“So on that metric, he’s ticking all the boxes for me so I’m more than happy to come down and help him campaign.”

Asked what he thought of Cllr Miller’s Labour opponent, he said: “I think Joe will be more focused on local issues, perhaps less focused on grandstanding, less focused on trying to grab cheap headlines.

“I’m biased, but I think what government needs is a local champion that will have a national presence and I think Joe will do that.”

The former Cardinal Newman student and trainee lawyer, Cllr Miller became Brighton and Hove City Council’s youngest councillor aged 20.

Now 25, he aims to represent the area at Parliament and is campaigning on a slogan of “born here for here”.

Conservative party chairman Mr Cleverly said his party is spending time on the doorsteps talking about crime and policing, quality education and health provisions.

He said: “The simple truth is that the British economy was on the verge of collapse when we stepped in and that meant that we had to make some difficult decisions.

“But what those decisions did mean is that we kept the economy afloat and now we have seen the economy growing.

“That does now mean that we can do what we always wanted to do - and which everybody gets into politics to do - which is invest in the things that help build communities.

“So we’ve had ten years where we have had recovery and now we have ten years of renewal - that’s the plan.”

Mr Cleverly, the incumbent MP for Braintree, met his wife in Sussex and said he has a “massive soft spot for Brighton”.

He said the best nights in the city are always a “little bit hazy” but added he enjoyed visiting the King and Queen pub in Marlborough Place.