'Bring it on!' - Sunderland and Easington MPs prepare for General Election after date set for July 4

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‘Bring it on!’

That’s the message from Sunderland MPs after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set a General Election date for July 4.

The soaked PM made the announcement as heavy rain battered Downing Street on Wednesday, May 22.

The news ended a day of speculation.

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Until rumours began circulating on Wednesday morning, most had thought the General Election would take place in the autumn, after Mr Sunak decided against holding the vote on the same day as local elections on May 2.

But, with the date now set, campaigning has begun in earnest.

Of Sunderland’s three MPs, only one - Sharon Hodgson - has served while the Labour Party was in Government, with Julie Elliott and Bridget Phillipson having been elected in 2010.

Labour MP for Easington, Grahame Morris, was also elected in 2010.

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Ms Philllipson represents Houghton and Sunderland South, and, as Shadow Education Secretary, looks set for a place in the Cabinet if Sir Keir Starmer seals a victory.

Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesShadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

In a statement this morning, she said: “Sunderland’s where I’m from: for fourteen years I’ve been proud to represent my community in Parliament.

“I cannot wait to make the case for change, for a Britain where children come first. It’s time for change. Bring it on.”

Sharon Hodgson MP. School meals have been a key focus during her time as an MPSharon Hodgson MP. School meals have been a key focus during her time as an MP
Sharon Hodgson MP. School meals have been a key focus during her time as an MP

Mrs Hodgson, who represents Washington and Sunderland West, is Wearside’s longest-running MP.

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She served as a Government whip under Gordon Brown and has held a number of shadow ministerial roles, as well as serving as a parliamentary private secretary to Sir Keir Starmer.

Mrs Hodgson was first elected to represent the now-defunct seat of Gateshead East and Washington West, and the constituency will alter again after more boundary changes.

She will stand for the new seat of Washington and Gateshead South. The changes also mean the St Anne’s council ward will move from the abolished constituency into Houghton and Sunderland South.

Reacting to Mr Sunak’s announcement, Mrs Hodgson said: “Finally the Prime Minister has called the General Election. We have the opportunity now, at long last, to make the changes this country has been crying out for.

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“The Labour Party under Keir Starmer is ready, ready to serve in the interests of working people and turn the page on the past 14 years of Conservative chaos and decline. 

“Having been an MP since 2005, I have seen first hand the damage and destruction the Conservatives have done to my constituents and the North East.

“If elected, Labour will take control of our economy and provide economic stability, restore order to our streets, provide our nation's children with the education they deserve, and clear the asylum backlog to end the crisis. 

“I am standing for election in the new constituency of Washington and Gateshead South, and I know from speaking to residents so far that the General Election couldn't come soon enough.

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“I am excited to get back out on the doorstep and set out Labour's vision. 

“Labour in Government will turn this country around, and we stand before you ready to deliver.”

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer with Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott on a tour of Clearly Drinks in Southwick Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer with Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott on a tour of Clearly Drinks in Southwick
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer with Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott on a tour of Clearly Drinks in Southwick | sn

Ms Elliott, whose Sunderland Central constituency boundaries will remain unchanged, served as a Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change under Ed Miliband, and is equally eager to see her party form the next Government.

“This general election is an opportunity for the country to move on from 14 years of decline under the Conservatives - it is an opportunity to get Britain working again, building again, and growing again,” she said today

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“Labour has a plan that is focused on putting money back into the pockets of hardworking people, of restoring the NHS, and of breaking down barriers to opportunity for people across this country.

“It is time to move on from Conservative cronyism, and from a Prime Minister who is out of touch with the people he claims to represent.

“It is time for change. Vote Labour to build a better Britain.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris, left, with former miner Stephen Maitland, centre, and Alan Mardghum Secretary of Durham Miners Association. He has recently made headlines campaigning on miners’ pensions.Easington MP Grahame Morris, left, with former miner Stephen Maitland, centre, and Alan Mardghum Secretary of Durham Miners Association. He has recently made headlines campaigning on miners’ pensions.
Easington MP Grahame Morris, left, with former miner Stephen Maitland, centre, and Alan Mardghum Secretary of Durham Miners Association. He has recently made headlines campaigning on miners’ pensions. | other 3rd party

Mr Morris will stand again for the Easington constituency - which includes Seaham and Murton - and has previously served as Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and and Shadow Minister for the Constitutional Convention.

He said it was time for voters to decide on their future.

“It’s time for change,” he said.

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“The public faces a clear choice in this election: a Labour government or more Conservative chaos. Our communities and families have endured Tory crisis, corruption, and division, and many cannot afford another five years of failure.

“There is a real alternative: a renewed Labour Party under Keir Starmer's leadership, ready to serve our country with a plan to rebuild Britain.

“I am excited to present our case for a Labour government and it is up to the people to decide the future direction of our country.”

Across the North East, Labour will be looking to win back seats lost to the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election, including North West Durham and Blyth Valley.

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Since the 2019, the UK has officially left the European Union, the country - and the world - has endured the Covid-19 pandemic.

Conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza, and elsewhere, inflation, the cost of living and the housing crisis have also all piled on pressure on global leaders.

Whoever wins the General Election will immediately need to tackle problems in the UK and overseas.

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