TEES Valley mayor Ben Houchen has urged Conservative MPs to back prime minister Boris Johnson or they risk losing the next General Election. 

Writing in The Times on Monday, Mr Houchen labelled the prime minister a "one-of-a-kind politician who is able to unite north and south like never before" adding he is someone " who understands what really matters to voters and communities across the country". 

"If they vote to get rid of Boris they’ll be voting to lose the next election," he warned. 

Read more: Ben Houchen accused of 'selling people down the river'

Mr Houchen's article comes as the prime minister faces increasing pressure from his own party amid the ongoing party-gate scandal. 

Boris Johnson is expected to receive Sue Gray’s inquiry into allegations of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street on Monday.

The senior civil servant is understood to be preparing to hand over her long-awaited report to No 10 after working to pare it back following a request from the Metropolitan Police.

But Mr Houchen said by the time of the next general Election, in three years time, Sue Gray's report is "unlikely to be a priority with voters". 

The Northern Echo: Boris Johnson and ben Houchen on avisit to Guisborough in 2019. Picture: DOUG MOODYBoris Johnson and ben Houchen on avisit to Guisborough in 2019. Picture: DOUG MOODY

Mr Houchen also criticised recently-elected 'red wall' MPs who have publicly distanced themselves from the prime minister amid the ongoing controversy. 

"MPs who only won their red wall seats because of the prime minister seem hypnotised by the repeated insistence of Remainer lawyers and mischievous talking heads that they are somehow required to stab him in the back because his wife popped downstairs during his working day to wish him happy birthday. 

"As someone who spends his time in the cooler air of Teesside, I would suggest that they need to pause, think, and recover some sense of proportion."

Read more: £1bn cut to Government funding raises levelling up concerns

Mr Houchen warned a future Britain without Mr Johnson as leader would threaten the current Conservative majority - and flagships schemes like levelling up would not be delivered. 

He said: "If Boris is removed, the opportunity before us to rebalance our economy and society will be lost. Even worse, the levelling up agenda would be dead.

"If Boris stays, the prospects for people across the country are much brighter." Mr Houchen praised the prime minister for his role in leading the vaccination and booster programme. 

"No other MP has Boris’s breadth of appeal, nor his breadth of vision," Mr Houchen added. "I can attest from my experience to his genuine interest in making places like Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool a success and to ensuring that reluctant civil servants look at what can be done rather than at what can’t."

Read more: Our kids deserve this opportunity, says Freeport director

The Northern Echo: The new state-of-the-art Teesworks Gatehouse and launch of a new jobs website Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe new state-of-the-art Teesworks Gatehouse and launch of a new jobs website Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT (Image: Northern Echo)

The Tees Valley Mayor - who was re-elected in 2021 after winning 72.8 per cent of the vote - recalled how the Tees Valley has already, and will continue to, benefit from Government investment and Mr Johnson's leadership. 

He said: "In Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, 2022 has started out with a bang. We’re securing investment, delivering jobs and creating the growth that local people want to see. 

"We’re preparing local workers for the thousands of good-quality, well-paid jobs that are coming to my region thanks to the Teesside Freeport, the largest and first in the UK. 

"As cranes rise high on the Teesside skyline and steel goes into the ground, the disconnect between what we’re achieving locally and the political conversation at Westminster could not be wider."

Durham City Labour MP Mary Kelly Foy has previously called for the prime minister to resign. 

Writing in The Northern Echo, she said: "Boris Johnson doesn’t know what empathy is, he is an arrogant egomaniac who will never learn while those around him allow him to bend the rules when it suits him and his closest aides.

"The Government is in meltdown and the solution is clear to me – Boris Johnson’s time as PM is up, he MUST go."


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