POLITICANS and industry figures across the North-East have reacted to Boris Johnson being elected as leader of the Conservative Party and therefore the UK's next Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson said it was an "extraordinary honour and privilege" to be elected Tory leader after defeating Jeremy Hunt,  and praised  outgoing PM Theresa May for her "extraordinary service to this party and this country", saying it was a privilege to serve in her Cabinet.

Simon Clarke, Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland MP, said Mr Johnson would" bring optimism, seriousness of purpose and self-belief to the crucial months that lie ahead".

But Dr Paul Williams, Stockton South MP, said Mr Johnson was "unfit to be Prime Minister because of his character, his policies and his lack of empathy.”

Simon Clarke MP

The Northern Echo: Simon Clarke MPSimon Clarke MP

Mr Clarke said: “This is a huge mandate for Boris Johnson to become Prime Minister – he secured the support of two-thirds of Conservative members and well over half the MPs. Now we can focus on delivering Brexit, uniting our Party and defeating the danger of Jeremy Corbyn whenever the next election comes.

“Boris is absolutely right that we need to leave the EU by 31 October. If the EU want to offer a fair and sensible deal, we are listening, but we now have a Prime Minister who is absolutely clear that we will leave without a Withdrawal Agreement if needs be, and that in either scenario our country will make a success of our independence.

“Boris brings optimism, seriousness of purpose and self-belief to the crucial months that lie ahead. I’m excited by key policies like delivering a Freeport at Teesport and putting 20,000 more police on our streets over the next three years. These are the things people on Teesside want to see and now we have a leader who will deliver them.”

Dr Paul Williams

The Northern Echo: Dr Paul Williams.

Dr Williams said: “Boris Johnson is unfit to be Prime Minister because of his character, his policies and his lack of empathy.

“On character, he tells lies. He has been fired from two jobs for lying. If he were a doctor he’d be struck off.”

“His policies offer nothing that solves the problems I see in my constituency. A tax cut for people earning £80,000 isn’t going to bring extra investment for schools and the NHS, or help low paid workers struggling to make ends meet.”

“Boris Johnson’s lack of understanding of the lives of people in our country are at the root of these bad judgements. He just doesn’t get it, and doesn’t even try to.”

“He has always done what is best for Boris Johnson, not what is best for the country.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen

The Northern Echo: The Mayoral Election count takes place at Thornaby Pavillion. Winning Conservative candidate Ben Houchen. Picture: CHRIS BOOTH.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Only a few weeks ago Boris announced in Darlington that he backed my Freeport policy and that Teesside could get a Freeport post Brexit.

"I’ll now continue to work with the new Prime Minister and his team to make sure that this gets delivered for the people of the Tees Valley. Boris will also need to deliver Brexit. something that 67% of people in the Tees Valley voted for."

Redcar MP Anna Turley

The Northern Echo: FOODBANK: Redcar Labour candidate Anna Turley

“This is a disastrous decision for our country and I worry what it will mean for communities like ours to have a Prime Minister who does not understand our experience and our challenges.

“Boris Johnson is a proven liar who will say whatever he likes to get what he wants. His Etonian life experience is far removed from people on Teesside and this shows in his decision to prioritise tax cuts for the wealthiest over investment in public services and jobs.

“Most worryingly, he is prepared to gamble with the livelihoods of people in our area on a no deal Brexit which would be catastrophic for our local economy in the North East.

“Boris does what is best for Boris and Teesside deserves better.

"I will be holding him to the government's previous commitments to the steel industry and to funding the clean up and regeneration of the SSI site. This matters more than tax cuts for the wealthy."


The Northern Echo:

Anna Round, Senior Research Fellow at IPPR North said: “At this critical moment in our country’s history, Boris Johnson has the opportunity to begin to rebuild trust between the people of the North of England and the Government. He cannot waste it. He must act immediately to demonstrate his personal commitment to ‘Power up the North’.

“Too many of the people and places in the North are yet to see the benefits of the Northern Powerhouse agenda. One million Northern children live in poverty, and too many adults live in chronic ill-health before they reach State Pension age.

"That’s why it’s imperative that Mr Johnson moves the Northern Powerhouse into a new phase, and quickly, because Northerners cannot wait for economic justice.”

On powering up the economy, Senior Research Fellow Luke Raikes said: “Consumed by the chaos of Brexit, Theresa May’s government deprioritised devolution and overlooked the Northern Powerhouse agenda when we needed it most. A new government cannot make the same mistake.

“The UK is the most centralised country in the developed world, and this has had negative consequences for Northerners and Londoners alike.

“Our new Prime Minister must now follow through on promises to invest in the North. And he must use his initial days to set out a comprehensive plan to devolve real power to England’s regions, towns and cities – starting in the North.”

Jonathan Walker, assistant director policy at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said it was important for the region to avoid a "damaging no deal Brexit" which "must be avoided".

He added: "The Conservatives were elected on a manifesto commitment to close the gap between London and the North-East. 

"We want to see more investment in North-East infrastructure, including the East Coast Mainline which we are campaigning for, and support for HS2."