When standing for Parliament last year, my team and I spoke to thousands of voters whilst knocking on doors across Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. One of the most frustrating accusations leveled against me was that “politicians are all the same.”
Trust in politicians is at an all-time low – and you only have to look at the recent revelations regarding Conservative Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick to understand why.
This weekend we have learnt that not only did Jenrick's actions save a billionaire property developer £50m at the expense of the people of Tower Hamlets, one of the most financially deprived areas in the country, but that there is a huge question mark as to whether his meeting with a ‘family friend’ ended up costing some Teessiders thousands of pounds.
Robert Jenrick was the Exchequer Secretary when Sirius Minerals requested Government guarantees to progress their mine up here on Teesside. I was Labour’s local Parliamentary candidate at the time and voters got in touch worried about their jobs, and about the savings they had invested in the local business.
Despite our campaign for the Government to back the mine, the Tory Government declined to act leaving the company on the brink of financial collapse. The Guardian has since discovered that during this period Jenrick met with a billionaire ‘family friend’ who owned competing local business Cleveland Potash and would therefore have had a vested interest in Sirius Minerals failing.
Luckily for local workers, Sirius Minerals was bought out by Anglo American in March. Whilst this helped to secure local jobs, it cost the 10,000 local investors dearly - some of whom only received 25% of what they had originally invested.
It is no wonder that people have lost faith in politicians. Local people in Teesside (and the other 75,000 retail investors who lost out due to the Government’s inaction) deserve to know whether or not the decision by the Government not to act was at least in part due to Jenrick’s meeting with a ‘family friend’. Such corruption should have no place in our Government.