Before my election to Parliament, I worked in Teesside’s Chemical Industry. I was due to be on nights on the night of the General Election. I remember calling up my shift manager right before the results were announced to tell him I probably wouldn’t be able to make it in for my shift on Tuesday. His response was “We know Jake, we’re watching you on the telly.”
Growing up here, I never thought someone from my background would go on to become our MP – in fact Redcar had never had an MP from Teesside before my election. The first time I spoke in the Commons Chamber, I had this huge nervous smile on my face as I could hardly believe it was real. I was elected at 26 (becoming the youngest male MP in the House of Commons) in an area which had never previously elected a Conservative.
From the very beginning, I have worked tirelessly for our area and to get results for my constituents. I was elected to help stop all the parliamentary noise about second referendums and endless debates on the EU, and to get Brexit done. That’s why I’m proud that my first vote as the MP was to deliver on the will of 17.4 million people and take us out of the EU.
Then it all changed very quickly. We left the EU on 31st January and less than two months later we were in total lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I still remember the name of my first constituent who died of COVID-19 on 29th March – it was only a few weeks before I lost my own Grandad. Never could we have imagined the turmoil we would face and the friends and family many would lose.
Even though we were apart, we came together. I joined with local response groups like the Ladies of Steel to deliver food parcels to vulnerable people and with volunteers from across the borough doing mass COVID-19 testing at Redcar Leisure Centre. When the vaccine came, I supported Dr Lone at his Surgery in South Bank with a mission to shield as many people as we could from this virus.
Together we made it through one of the worst times in recent memory.
Now we face different challenges, like record high energy costs and global inflation, triggered by Putin’s war in Ukraine. We have changed prime ministers, twice! And we have lost one of the most important figures of modern Britain, her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Whatever the troubles of the last few years, we have focussed on delivering positive change here in Redcar & Cleveland.
Working with the Council, I have secured £25 million from Government for the Redcar Town Deal and a further £20 million for the regeneration of Eston Square and Eston Baths. Since 2019 we have an extra 250 police officers in Cleveland Police making our streets safer. And we now have the UK’s largest Freeport with a plan to create 18,000 new well-paid jobs, in new green industries that support our Environment too.
Our plan is working, we’re making progress and we are transforming Teesside for the better, but there is still much more to do here.
We need to make sure the funding we have worked to secure isn’t squandered like it has been in times past. We need to stop the Council turning its back on important local projects like Eston Square again. We need to ensure our Freeport continues to succeed – we know the wreckers want to block our progress for political gain, we can’t let them.
My focus remains on helping Redcar & Cleveland reach our full potential, which is why I am today announcing that I will be standing again at the next election, to remain as your Member of Parliament.
I humbly ask for your support. Representing my hometown in Parliament has been the honour of my life, and I will continue fighting for you as long as I am here.