Ministerial job for Hexham’s MP

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AMID the tumult of this week’s Cabinet re-shuffle, Hexham’s newly re-elected MP, Guy Opperman was named a Department for Work and Pensions minister.

The announcement of Mr Opperman’s Promotion to a Parliamentary under secretary of state for the DWP came on Wednesday.

Prior to the General Election, Mr Opperman had held a position as a member of the Government’s whips’ office.

The newly-wed Conservative MP was not available for comment on the move this week.

However, as the last of the General Election results were announced on Friday morning, he spoke of his confidence in Theresa May as Prime Minister.

With 24,996 votes, the Conservative candidate was re-elected to his Hexham seat for the third time in seven years.

Mr Opperman said: “I don’t think it was a mistake to call a General Election. I believe Theresa May is the right person to continue as leader of this country to navigate us through Brexit. I believe the Brexit negotiations not only will go ahead but they should go ahead because that’s the result of the referendum.”

Reacting to claims that he had not been visible in Tynedale during the run-up to the election, Mr Opperman said: “I have fought really hard for each and every vote and I have taken nothing for granted.”

Hexham’s Labour Party candidate, Stephen Powers said the historic 9.2 per cent swing towards Labour was symptomatic of a shift in popular feeling.

Mr Powers, who received 15,760 votes, said that he and Mr Opperman were neck and neck for the first hour of the election count at Blyth.

“We had one of our best results in 15 years. A lot of young people came out here, stopping us in the street to tell us they were excited for the change Labour offered.

“I think people in Hexham were really angry about the down-grading of services at Hexham Hospital.

“There is a momentum now to build on and try in Hexham to see whether one day it is possible to return a Labour MP.”

And Mr Powers took an negative view of Mrs May and her decision to call the election.

He said: “I think it was a extremely arrogant decision. She ran a campaign about fear and the unknown and a personal attack on another individual rather than offering anything positive for the country.

“She would have had an opportunity after Thursday’s result to bring a Government that could work for all to negotiate a sensible Brexit deal.

“But in desperation to cling on to power she has sought a deal with the DUP, which was the wrong decision.”

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