For those of you who sensibly went to bed early on election night, let me start with the two points I made in my speech after the count. First it is a genuine honour to be re-elected as the MP for Tynemouth so thank you to everyone who took the time to vote. Second I apologised for the way my party had failed to win the trust of people nationally, in what was the worst result for Labour since 1935. I am sorry.
At least the election answered some questions. We will be leaving the EU and the debate now shifts to what sort of country, outside the EU, we aspire to be. The bumps along the road for the Prime Minister in “Getting Brexit Done” will come, as his political career demonstrates, when facts get in the way.
The Labour Party is facing challenges about its own future, perhaps even whether it has a future. Our own bumpy road going forward begins with the election of a new leader in a few weeks time. We need someone with the skills to be a leader and not just a commentator on events. We need someone who can unite the country because leaving the EU is testing the very existence of the United Kingdom. That means not turning nation against nation, town against city, urban against rural or whatever other divisions are there to be exploited. And above all it’s about bringing hope to communities here in our region and elsewhere. We can build a better future for our country, we need to take that opportunity.