Freed from the shackles of EU rules, we can unlock the potential of towns like Workington

Freed from the shackles of EU rules, we can unlock the potential of towns like Workington

Workington is a town with a proud industrial heritage, situated on the west coast of Cumbria. A town where iron ore and coal were the base ingredients for a technological revolution, with the Bessemer converters running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Where steel was rolled by ever narrower milling machines to produce high-quality rails to exacting tolerances. Railways in India, Africa, America and across much of Europe still have ‘Made in Workington’ stamped on their sides, Workington steel, it was said, ‘held the world together’.

Benefiting from the gifts given to us by God, West Cumbria capitalised on its industriousness, resilience and pride – and at the centre of that crown was the gem of a true Working Town. Bessemer built his plant in Workington due to the high-grade low-phosphoric haematite available in local pits. The football team, the Reds, were named after the iron ore miners who were covered with the mineral red hue. Workington made the railways of the world.

But sadly, the iron and steel industry is no longer. The last two Bessemer converters were shut down in 1974. The Moss Bay rolling mills fell silent in 2006. The last remaining remnants of a once proud industry are maintained in TSP Engineering, a subsidiary of British Steel – now in liquidation by the Official Receiver.

West Cumbria is rightly proud of its industrial and agricultural heritage. From harnessing the power of the atom for energy generation, to the discovery of graphite for pencil manufacture. From farming sheep in some of the most dramatic environments in the world, to making plastic high-security banknotes. The diverse range of skills and expertise in the area is phenomenal.

Workington also voted to leave the European Union.

Since 1979, successive Labour MPs have presided over continual decline in the economic prosperity of the constituency. Major employers have closed their factories and there is an unhealthy reliance on a few public sector employers – the NHS, local government and Sellafield Ltd. Blame for the closure of the steel industries, the coal and the iron ore mines are always directed at the same sources – the Tories and Westminster.

Whilst central government has had a role to play, a key area that needs to be considered is the role that protectionist state aid rules have had against the near terminal decline in the industries of the town. Our areas were bribed with regional growth funding from Brussels, surrounded by so much red tape that you needed to employ an additional two or three people to carry out the admin for the grant. The last nail in the EU coffin, however, is that state aid rules prohibited any assistance to businesses in the largest three industries left: nuclear, agriculture and tourism.

Workington is a place of realistic optimism. Fools are not suffered gladly. When the opportunity came to free ourselves from the shackles of EU rules that have held this area back, that opportunity was taken with gusto. But now, we find our Labour representatives would rather dictate to us to Remain in the EU than deliver what we voted for.

Sue Hayman, as a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, has consistently voted to frustrate Brexit. Her intention is for us to have another referendum, so that the right answer for her and the rest of her so-called democrats can be delivered. Workington men and women across the constituency are fed up and have had enough.

On the doorstep, the message from the people of Workington is clear – they want to get Brexit done. For the first time in my political life, drivers are stopping their cars to talk when they see the blue rosette in what once was a sea of red. I have been chased down the street in traditional Labour wards for people to shake my hand and tell me to get us out of the European Union.

I will deliver on this promise.

As a young apprentice, I worked for British Steel before its closure. I have vociferously campaigned to leave the EU for most of my adult life, leaving my party and standing for UKIP in the 2015 general election before campaigning to win the referendum and returning to ensure that we implement the result. I can see the benefits that leaving the EU can bring us.

A former Labour MP for neighbouring Copeland and vocal Jeremy Corbyn critic, Jamie Reed, is often heard saying, “the best years of West Cumbria are ahead of us”- and I agree with him. Under a Conservative government we can unlock the potential of West Cumbria as the centre of nuclear excellence, capitalising on our engineering and scientific prowess to deliver safe, cost-effective, low-carbon energy. We can invest in the areas industry, free from the shackles of EU red tape and the restrictions that prevent us supporting our traditional industries and businesses.

The Conservative manifesto prioritises R&D in our post-Brexit revolution, unleashing the potential of our great country. I will ensure that the Workington constituency benefits from that, and unleashes the potential of the West Cumbria coast.

To coin a phrase – I want to make Workington great again. Outside the EU, and with a Conservative member of Parliament, we can do just that.