18938North East mayoral candidate Jeremy Middleton has hit back at Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, calling her disparaging remarks about the Northern Powerhouse “deeply inappropriate”. Ms Chapman made her comments at a Westminster Hall debate on the impact of local government funding cuts in the North East.

Last month Mr Middleton announced his intention to run for the devolved North East Mayoralty, which includes County Durham, Northumberland, and Tyne and Wear.

Mr Middleton said: “Jenny Chapman’s comments are deeply inappropriate, she chose to talk down the North East rather than highlight all of the positive things happening here. She needs to realise that local council and the economy aren’t the same thing. Nobody denies that bringing public spending under control has been hard, but it’s only fair that the workers and small businesses who are the backbone of our economy aren’t simply working to service an ever growing national debt.

“The Northern Powerhouse is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring devolved powers to the North East, and to rebalance the economy with increased investment in jobs and infrastructure, so we can compete with London and the South. It’s something we should embrace. We’ve had a raw deal for too long, and now that devolved powers and transport spending are just around the corner, Jenny and her fellow MPs have chosen to talk us down and defend the status quo, they’ve chosen to engage in party political point scoring when they should be working with the government to bring businesses and jobs to the area.”