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Jonathan Arnott MEP welcomes investment from GlaxoSmithKline

The decision by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to invest £275m at its UK manufacturing sites including in County Durham has been welcomed by local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“This is great news not just for the local area but for Britain in general and I am delighted with the firm’s view that despite Brexit the country remains an attractive location.

“There was such doom-mongering about the economic future of the UK before the Referendum vote but already we are seeing that the fears were exaggerated beyond belief and the GSK investment decision demonstrates this,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP MEP for the North East.

The company, which has nine sites employing a total of 6,000 people, will invest a total of £92 million at the Barnard Castle site to build a new sterilising facility.

“Investment is desperately needed in my constituency which repeatedly comes out the worst in the country in terms of employment, wages and house prices. I earnestly hope that this GSK decision will be mirrored by other firms.”

Mr Arnott, who is standing for leadership of UKIP following the resignation of Nigel Farage, added, “Regardless of whether I become leader or not I will continue to do everything I can for the North East which has been shamefully neglected for decades by successive governments.”

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Jonathan Arnott MEP announces bid for leadership of UKIP

UKIP’s Jonathan Arnott has announced his candidacy to be the party’s leader following the resignation of Nigel Farage.

Mr Arnott, 35, MEP for the North East, aims to reach out to the 13.6 million people who voted to leave the European Union on June 23 but who did not feel able to support UKIP at last year’s general election.

A former mathematics teacher, Mr Arnott is keen to develop a more unified UKIP with a wider appeal to all British citizens.

Speaking about his intention to speak directly to the millions who voted for Brexit but not necessarily for UKIP, he said: “These people voted for Brexit in a democratic election and our government must be held to account, to ensure that ‘no’ really does mean ‘no’ and that Brexit really does mean Brexit.

“It is increasingly clear, following Andrea Leadsom’s abandoning the race to become Prime Minister, that the establishment is organising itself for ‘business as usual’.

“Worryingly, under the new Prime Minister Theresa May, negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will be in hands of those who do not actually want us to leave.

“The Labour Party is of course in complete disarray, so quite frankly UKIP represents the only alternative to the establishment and will be the only unifying force for Brexit.

“Since June 23, the entire DNA of UKIP has changed. We are no longer a party of protest, but a party of the future.

“There are many challenges that lie ahead but first we must hold the government’s feet to the fire to enact the will of the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit in the referendum.

“I envision a party which will use the opportunity provided by Brexit to create jobs for working people, to protect our steel industry and manufacturing, to rebuild our fisheries and deregulate our small businesses.

“We will stand up for the working people who Labour ignore and the Conservatives despise. And we will be the party that stands up for our small businesses, helping them to create jobs and become the big businesses of tomorrow.

“We are not anti-immigrant or anti-immigration, but we are fiercely opposed to uncontrolled mass net immigration, which drives down wages and ultimately costs jobs.

“We’re finally moving power back from Brussels to Westminster, but now we must campaign further to devolve that power from Westminster to the people.

“I do not fear taking on the rudderless Labour Party in its heartlands. In my region, the North East of England, I led the UKIP fight at the 2015 general election.

“We went from having below-average UKIP results in 2010 to gaining the highest UKIP share of the vote of any region in the country and we stand poised to gain Westminster seats.

“My two years as local elections co-ordinator, and six as the party’s general secretary, have given me an intimate understanding of the internal workings of UKIP and I propose constitutional reform that will achieve a dynamic, democratic party where the views of grassroots members and branches have greater input.

“Standing for leader has not been an easy decision for me to make, as I know the level of hard work and commitment that will be required.

“I have nothing but praise for the way that Nigel Farage, the greatest orator in modern politics, was able to devote so much time and energy to UKIP.”

Jonathan has been MEP for the North East since 2014. Prior to being elected he was the party’s general secretary for six years.

He enrolled at the University of Sheffield aged just 15, having gained his ‘A’ levels three years early, leaving after having attained a Masters in Mathematics.

He went on to become head of mathematics at a school in Sheffield before entering politics.

A skilful chess player, and former Yorkshire chess captain, Jonathan has also played for Britain at the board game Stratego. He is married and lives near Middlesbrough.

Mr Arnott has written a book about chess and more recently authored: “The Blueprint: Our Future After Brexit.”

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Response to the Chilcot report

Many MPs voted for military intervention in Iraq, at the behest of Tony Blair, and have since changed their minds on the basis of what has happened since.

I opposed it at the time, largely because of the shifting reasoning. We were told that it was about support for terrorism. When that couldn’t be proved, we were then informed that it was about weapons of mass destruction. Finally, we were given the reasoning that it would help the Iraqi people.

But without a credible plan, there was no guarantee that it would actually help anyone. The rise of ISIS proved much worse than I, or many of us, could ever have imagined.

If the reason for war keeps changing, then it begins to look like an excuse: a government which was desperate to give any rationale it could think of for going to war, irrespective of evidence. War is not something which should ever be entered into lightly, or without due consideration and contemplation. It is the most solemn duty of any government, under the leadership of any Prime Minister. For that reason I opposed it.

Now the Chilcot report has been published, we know more than we did. It will take time to absorb such a lengthy, detailed and nuanced report. The report is hugely critical of the Blair administration, for example:

“Military action at that time was not a last resort.”

“The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted.”

It also questions how the legal basis for war was decided.

Blair told Chilcot that much could be seen only now with hindsight; Chilcot blew this out of the water: “We do not agree that hindsight is required. The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional instability, and Al Qaida activity in Iraq, were each explicitly identified before the invasion.”

The comments in the Chilcot report go beyond what I was aware of at the time; if the evidence available to the Blair government was even more overwhelming at the time, how could Blair and his cabinet possibly have gone along with it?

Robin Cook did not. He resigned from the Cabinet, being unable to accept collective responsibility on the war. His comments at the time were telling:

“On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain. They want inspections to be given a chance, and they suspect that they are being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US Administration with an agenda of its own. Above all, they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb on a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies.”

Why didn’t more of the Labour Cabinet, who were in full possession of all the facts, speak out at the time?

There will be many questions that should be asked in the coming days but one will be pivotal. How did Labour get things so badly wrong, and how can we prevent war ever being entered into so lightly by a British government again?

Statement on the resignation of Nigel Farage MEP

Like most of you, I have just seen the news that Nigel Farage has resigned as leader of UKIP. I could say many things about Nigel Farage, as I’m sure we all could. But I’ll point out the two most obvious in my view. Nigel is the greatest orator of our time. His public speaking […]