North East Connected

Labour enforcer’s letter could scupper North East Devo Deal

19057Jeremy Middleton CBE, North East LEP Board Member and Mayoral Candidate, has condemned a plot by Labour MPs and Trade Union Leaders to derail the North East Devolution Deal, calling them “devo-saboteurs” and telling them that the region is not a political football.

The devolution deal, agreed by Labour council leaders late last year, which promises to bring £30 million a year of extra investment funding, devolved powers, and an elected mayor to the North East, is now under threat following a letter organised by Blaydon MP and Opposition Whip Dave Anderson. Mr Anderson was appointed as an Opposition Whip earlier this year by leader Jeremy Corbyn, tasked with enforcing his party’s line on fellow MPs.

The letter, which cites support from regional MPs and Trade Unionists, calls on council leaders to reject or delay ratifying the deal, in an attempt to convince their colleagues to do the same.

Jeremy Middleton said: “Labour has a cohort of devo-saboteurs who are trying to subvert democracy and undermine council leaders in their own party, all of whom agreed the Devolution Deal was in the best interests of the region when they signed it last year. The proposal for a Mayor was in the Conservative Manifesto, the Conservatives won the election outright and to suggest they do not have a mandate for this change is wrong.

“The North East is our home, not a political football to be kicked around between different factions of the Labour Party. Newcastle City Council has already agreed to the deal, and County Durham has come out in favour of it. These maverick MPs need to stop playing politics and see the deal for what it is, a real opportunity for the North East.

“We can’t let the best opportunity our region has had in a generation be sabotaged like this.  Dave Anderson has campaigned for devolution and praised Scottish devolution in parliament, yet now he chooses to ignore the need for it in the North East. He should put his community above the agenda of Jeremy Corbyn.”

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