THE chairman of the Tory party has visited the 'new blue wall'.

Amanda Milling was in Cockermouth, Copeland and Barrow to support the Conservative Party’s newest MPs and to meet people in the formerly staunch Labour seats which have now fallen to the Tories.

She was accompanied around Cockermouth by Workington MP Mark Jenkinson.

Ms Milling said she had wanted to visit the area since she was elected chairman in February but had been unable to do so because of lockdown.

Speaking in Cockermouth, she said she had found a community that had become resilient because of the challenges they had faced from flooding and, now, the pandemic.

She said: “I have picked up how businesses have adapted from their traditional roles as high street by increasing their online business and starting home deliveries and the like.

“It is a challenging situation but there is a feeling of optimism with new businesses opening in the town.”

Mr Jenkinson sad he was particularly concerned about tourism and hospitality which are the major industries in the area.

But he said uncertainty about overseas travel meant that more people were choosing to holiday at home.

Mr Jenkinson said: “I have been told that the Lake District is overflowing and this is spilling over into the areas around the Lake District.

"I think there will still be jobs for those who are furloughed.”

This week the new “rule of six” was introduced which means that the maximum size of any gathering will be six.

This has caused some concern among businesses but Ms Milling said she believed people would rise to the challenge.

Speaking during her visit to Cockermouth on Saturday morning, she said: “We are siting in a cafe in Cockermouth.

"It has been really busy but has managed to organise it so that people are social distancing.”

Following Cockermouth Ms Milling visited Copeland and Barrow, where she toured with MPs Trudy Harrison and Simon Fell.

She said: “Now I have been able to get out and see what is happening.

“This visit has given me a fairly good understanding of how people feel about about the challenges we have faced.”