The North East has certainly become the centre of attention, for somewhat the wrong reasons, in recent weeks. The visit of a certain government adviser led to widespread debate across the country and a palpable strength of feeling from the local community.
Lessons must be learnt from this experience, as it is certain that the furore surrounding the saga has led to a drop in support for the Conservative Government.
However, in a more positive vein, Michael Gove recently announced that there would be no Brexit extension and that the United Kingdom will officially become a fully independent, sovereign nation on 1st January 2021.
This is very welcome news, as it directly applies the manifesto commitment on which we were elected in December last year – the manifesto read very clearly that a Conservative government would not countenance an extension. Businesses have been subject to enough uncertainty over Brexit, given the perpetually changing deadlines and unhelpful noises coming from Brussels. The manifesto was also adamant that any trade deal organised would not be contingent on accepting any “commitments” or “obligations” from Brussels, that would trade away sovereignty. This would be a slap in the face to the millions of Brexit voters who, ultimately, wanted to “take back control”. The majority of northern voters are therefore very happy that we are pursuing this path and are seeking to maximise the opportunities that Brexit brings.
Locally, things continue to go well. The recent Black Lives Matter protests that took place in Newcastle, Durham and Middlesbrough were peaceful and well-managed by local law enforcement. This was a positive example set by the North East, to the extent that Durham Constabulary were commended by the Home Secretary in the House recently.
North East residents have been keen to express their dismay at the desecration of war memorials and statues of British heroes – Winston Churchill being a central figure.
Unfortunately, events have been largely impossible due to the restrictions of the pandemic. However, this has not stopped people from being keen to show their support and willingness to campaign in earnest once this is all over. We must be looking towards the future and make sure that we capitalise on our recent electoral success.
In order to maintain the Blue Wall seats that we have gained, we must absolutely step up our campaign game on a local level, as Labour are seething that they have lost their heartlands and desperately want them back. They will be coming for us and we must be ready.
This is why, over the coming months and years, I will look to cultivate new activists in our area and train them up ready for the road ahead.
George Brade, Coordinator for the North of England for Conservative Progress