THE Tees Valley Mayor has launched a campaign to secure protected status for parmos.

There is some merit in Mayor Houchen posing the question that if Cornish pasties, Swaledale cheese and Melton Mowbray pork pies can enjoy official protection from rip-off merchants then why not Teesside’s favourite post pub snack?

His reasoning is that giving the parmo EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) would ensure the cheese and breaded meat concoction’s authenticity remains intact, and parmo makers’ jobs were protected. 

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So let’s get this straight - a Conservative politician hopes EU red tape can save British jobs. Quick, call David Davis and tell him the good news. 

Sadly, the mayor’s argument doesn’t really stand up. 

For example, after securing protected status for Newcastle Brown Ale, the brewery owners shifted the factory to Gateshead and then Tadcaster as part of cost-saving measures, prompting them to go cap in hand to the EU commission to have their own hard-won geographical restriction revoked. Multinationals clearly couldn't give a fig about food provenance when it gets in the way of their business plans.   

Furthermore, parmo makers applying for a PDO will no doubt find that administrators in Brussels and Westminster have a few more important matters on their plates right now. It’s unlikely therefore that any protection would be awarded before Brexit is complete, meaning Teesside would then have to go through the complicated process of putting bilateral parmo agreements in place with EU members. Haven't we better things to be getting on with, such as overhauling the derelict steelworks site? 

At best the Mayor’s idea is a cheesy PR stunt aimed at stirring up debate and local pride, but in a week when it emerged that parts of Tees Valley are still blighted by the highest jobless rates in Britain his time would be better spent getting his teeth into more serious matters.