Five North East MPs ask questions at this week's PMQs

It was a bumper afternoon at prime minister’s questions (PMQs) for MPs representing North East constituencies.

Five parliamentarians, three from the 2019 intake, quizzed Mr Johnson on issues ranging from knife crime on Teesside to plans for a "monster incinerator" in Washington.

Paul Howell, the newly elected Tory MP for Sedgefield, began by asking about the government’s decision to give Ofcom powesr to regulate online content.

Labour’s Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, challenged Mr Johnson ("now a frequent visitor to Sunderland") on a controversial gasification project in her constituency.

The prime minister, who held a ceremonial Brexit day cabinet meeting on Wearside, said he would "certainly look into the matter" and ensure "Sunderland continues to prosper and lead the UK economy."

The plant, which could be built near the Nissan factory in Sunderland, would convert non- recyclable material into energy. Protestors have dubbed the project a "monster incinerator" and thousands of people have signed an online petition protesting against the scheme. A public inquiry on the plans will begin on February 18.

Rolton Kilbride, the company behind the development, said: "Some of the claims that have been advanced at times as factual and true are far from the case. As a result, we welcome the full and careful scrutiny of the inquiry next week."

Jacob Young, the Conservative MP for Redcar, raised the record number of knife crime offences recorded by Cleveland Police and asked his party leader "when will we start to see more police on the streets of Teesside?"

Mr Johnson said knife crime was "intolerable" and pointed to enhanced powers for police officers.

  • Bridget Philipson, who represents Houghton and Sunderland South, asked the prime minister about declining GP numbers in the city.

  • Blyth Valley's newly elected MP Ian Levy raised the port's potential as a base for the export of renewable technology and asked the prime minister to consider making Blyth a 'free port'.