This will be my last Echo column before the General Election campaign begins.
Since the last General Election, my columns have ranged from issues that have concerned my constituents when they have contacted me, including animal welfare and the future of our schools, to the more obscure like recycling unwanted electronics and electrical goods.
It has been wonderful to engage with you through my columns, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
One issue that often comes up often in my columns is Brexit – especially now that the Prime Minister has made Brexit the issue of this General Election.
Here in Sunderland we voted to leave, and that must be respected. I have done that by voting to trigger Article 50 in Parliament, but also engaging with my constituents through my public consultation meetings and questionnaires from earlier this year.
Brexit is one of the biggest economic, diplomatic and political issues facing our country. That is why it has been important to listen to you and ensure I can push for the best Brexit deal possible for our area. This has included working to ensure that our economy is as robust as possible as we leave the EU.
We can’t predict what will happen when we leave the EU – it is too unpredictable – but I have worked hard in Parliament to guarantee that our economic potential here in the North East, especially here in Sunderland, is unlocked, and we see much-needed economic growth in our region; something we have been long awaiting.
During the debates on the last Budget, I pushed the Government to direct innovation funding to the North East through a materials funding pot, which would boost production of steel, plastics, ceramics and other materials used in manufacturing in our region. This would have a direct benefit for our automotive sector.
This investment would have the potential to boost jobs and growth in our region by supporting Nissan’s supply chain with a much-needed investment injection.
This funding would not only allow the creation of new engineering and manufacturing jobs here in the North East, but also space to develop new products, the capacity to build products here in our country currently built in other countries and most importantly drive economic growth as we leave the EU.
Brexit has given us the capacity to look at things differently, especially our economy, and it is important we do this to ensure that we get a good deal for our area. We must ensure Brexit works for us all.