WE are now on recess from Westminster but clearly politics does not stop just because we are not at Westminster.

Like all Conservative MPs, I am, of course, being asked about who I am backing in the leadership race. For me it is a simple selection: who do I think will deliver best for the people of Sedgefield?

I want someone who can deal with the national and international concerns, and although both candidates have sat around the cabinet table, I believe that the all encompassing role of chancellor gives Rishi Sunak the edge in this.

When it comes to Sedgefield and the North East, though, I believe Rishi has such a record of delivery for our area that he is a clear choice. The TV debate on Monday only reinforced my view, and although both candidates strongly supported Levelling Up, I think Rishi understands the needs of the north better.

Recess gives me the big opportunity to get out and listen to local opinion on all the issues like cost of living, the war in Ukraine and – naturally – the leadership of the Conservative Party

This week, I have had some amazing engagements which have enabled me to listen to opinions and to share my support of Rishi.

I started with the Blue Light Day in Newton Aycliffe where I met numerous constituents. We talked about the Treasury Economic Campus in Darlington and the freeport in Teesside, both of which Rishi, as Chancellor, was instrumental in delivering. His partnership with the Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, was fundamental in these initiatives and I am delighted that Ben is also backing Rishi.

I also met people in the North West Durham seat of Richard Holden after Rishi had visited them, and they were so positive about him. Like most politicians, Rishi comes across best when you meet him and I have been impressed with him since he first came to a Darlington event shortly after being elected as Richmond’s MP in 2015.

I have spoken to him when he was chancellor about the importance of local infrastructure investment, like at Ferryhill Station.

As a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Treasury, I joined Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi on Monday when he visited Darlington to announce the site of the new campus. It is always great to see delivery of promises and this campus is a real investment in potential for so much but particularly for career paths for our young people. It will also get decision makers living in, and understanding, our world.

We, of course, discussed other projects, like Darlington railway station investments that the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, and Rishi, signed off the funding for. Incidentally, Grant is another supporting Rishi to be PM.

Levelling Up is vital to us locally, and it was Rishi who created the Levelling Up Fund to make a real difference to our communities. I am convinced that as Prime Minister, he would support our projects and double down on the delivery of the initiatives that he has worked on so closely with Boris Johnson. Those initiatives are fundamental to our controlled recovery from the economic trauma that Covid and the war in Ukraine have delivered. Having a strong grip on economic management is the best way forward and I have every confidence this can be delivered by Rishi Sunak.