Conservative leader Theresa May made a flying visit to north Northumberland this afternoon, giving a short speech to Tory politicians and activists at Eshott Airfield.
The Berwick constituency was just one stop on today’s tour of the North East, in which she is bidding to persuade a region that has traditionally voted Labour to turn blue. The transcript of her speech at Eshott is below and you can watch video on our Facebook page.
Speaking to the Gazette and other local media afterwards, she was asked why people in the North East should vote Conservative given people’s experiences of cuts to public services and the NHS.
“By 2020, we will be putting £10billion extra in real terms in the NHS and this region has seen extra doctors and nurses in local hospitals,” she said, before talking about the choice people will be making at this election in terms of leadership, using her catchphrase ‘strong and stable’.
The Prime Minister said that her and her team’s leadership was necessary to get the best Brexit deal for Northumberland, the region and the whole country.
More locally, she refused to commit to dualling the A1 the rest of the way through Northumberland to the Scottish Border, despite the Conservative candidate for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, saying this would be her key priority if re-elected.
Mrs May said: “We have already given a commitment for sections of dualling of the A1 and we recognise the important role that plays, but we need to look across the board at the infrastructure we provide here in roads. There’s £1.4billion going in, I think it’s over 20 road projects that money will fund.”
She also confirmed that the devolution agenda, a pet project of the former Chancellor, George Osborne, will continue to be important, while reflecting that there will now be a Conservative-led Northumberland council to plays it part in this.
“Devolution is important in terms of the powers that authorities when they combine can pool together and use for the economic improvement of an area. What is important of course is in the local area, whatever the devolution structure that is proposed and done, is actually something that can be supported within the local area.
“In looking at the North East Combined Authority and the talks that will be going ahead, I’m pleased that we’ll see Peter Jackson, who is obviously leading the Conservatives now they’re the largest group on Northumberland County Council, taking a role there.
“Interestingly, from that election, we see the importance of every single vote because what happened to the council was determined by the drawing of straws so one more vote could have made all the difference.”
Here is Theresa May’s speech to Tory activists at Eshott Airfield today:
“I am going to be continuing to campaign across the whole of the country and in doing that I am taking a very positive message across the country. It’s a message about strong and stable leadership in the national interest, about strengthening the UK’s position so that we get the best deal for Britain from Europe. and about building a better future for our country. And my message to voters is very simple. Every vote for my local candidates here in the North East of England and across the United Kingdom will strengthen my hand in those crucial Brexit negotiations. And the alternative is to risk making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister and we see the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists and others lining up to put him in Downing Street and a Corbyn-led coalition of chaos is a real possibility.
“So we must not take anything for granted. And this election is not about who people might have voted for, it’s about who they want to see leading this country over the next five years.
“As I say, I and everybody in my team will be out and about across the country taking our positive message across the country for the next 27 days and that message is a clear one. It’s a message that a vote for me and my team is a vote to strengthen our hand in those Brexit negotiations. A vote for me and my team is a vote for strong and stable leadership to take our country through Brexit and beyond, and a vote for me and my team is a vote to lock in economic security for a better future for this country.
“So let’s take that message out there to every community, to cities and towns and villages across the UK, fighting for every vote, earning the support of the British people. And if we win that support then together we will strive for Brtain, together we will fight for Britain and together we will deliver for Britain.”