It was, in many ways, an unfair contest. More than 20 Northern Labour MPs lined up to lambast the Chancellor’s recent budget as an attack on the region’s poorest.

The Gateshead MP Ian Mearns, who opened the 90 minute debate, even went as far as to claim that the government was pursuing a ‘scorched earth’ policy against the whole of the North.

Just two of the region’s 4 coalition MPs were present in Westminster Hall for the showdown. It was left to the Stockton Conservative James Wharton to defend the government’s record by highlighting a number of recent positive announcements from Nissan and SSI steel.