Constituency

Berwick upon Tweed is the most northerly constituency in England and the most sparsely populated. An electorate of some 56,000 is spread over a rural expanse of a thousand square miles, from the River Tweed in the north to the Cheviot Hills in the west and the North Sea to the east.

Berwick and Alnwick are the main market towns, with other centres of population at Amble, Wooler, Belford, Seahouses and Rothbury, as well as what was the former coalfield area of the constituency, which stretches from Shilbottle to Lynemouth. The south-west of the constituency includes the Belsay area - where Julie Pörksen grew up and went to school - which is just a few miles from Newcastle airport.

Alan Beith won the seat from the Conservatives in 1973 and held it until his retirement in 2015. During this time, the constituency's economic structure has undergone major changes. Berwick's traditional industries - mining, textiles and fisheries - went into sharp decline. Today, Berwick has some of the lowest average wages of any area in the country, and is still struggling to come to terms with the disappearance of its traditional occupations.

Many of the smaller villages no longer have a major economic activity. Many residents are now commuters or have retired. There is a higher proportion of retired people in this constituency than in most. Many of the young leave the area either for next steps in education or to seek employment.