"If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home, but you worry about paying a mortgage. You can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school."
Those were Theresa May’s first words as prime minister outside 10 Downing Street just over a year ago. Remember the "JAMs"? She struck a chord with the country and spoke for many who are, in her words, just about managing.
New figures show that Tyneside in the North East of England tops the list of people who most fit her Downing Street description. Newcastle has more than its fair share of ‘Just About Managings’.
The study by Policy North shows Newcastle has the highest proportion of people who are in work but, with almost no savings to fall back on, really are just about managing.
If the unthinkable happened and jobs were lost, a shocking 10 per cent of Newcastle workers would run out of money altogether in under four weeks – twice the proportion of Liverpool and Bristol (both 5%), higher than Birmingham (7%), Manchester and Leeds (both 8%) and Southampton at 4%.
Our research shows a third of those in Newcastle worry about money every single day.
These numbers go a long way towards explaining Brexit and the recent election result.
More public sector jobs, too often the prescription for the North East, never addresses the fundamental long-term need for a larger and stronger private sector in the North. Relying on public sector jobs simply puts places like the North East at the front of the unemployment queue when the tough times come and public finances are squeezed.
That is why we are so passionate about expanding the North's trading opportunities around the world, not just in industry but in services too. Once we leave the EU, we can choose to trade with any country in the world and the North must lead that charge.
In the North East for example, we have manufacturing skills, ports and airports that make us a prime location for international businesses to locate their assembly plants. Incentivised with no customs tariffs on goods processed and stored inside our idea of a Great North Free Port, how many more Nissans, Hitachis and retail giants like Amazon could we attract here bringing scores of direct and indirect jobs?
Food for thought this summer.