The West Country Debate: Bailing out Flybe, the future of the high street and leadership contests

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It's a new year with a new government, and the first West Country Debate of 2020 following a general election-induced hiatus.

Despite the political landscape cooling down when it comes to knife-edge votes and polarising debates, there were still plenty of things to discuss in the West Country this week.

A Flybe plane. Credit: ITV News

Exeter-based airline FlyBe was on the brink of collapse at the start of the week, but was thrown a lifeline after crunch talks with the Government.

Opinion has been torn over the bailout, with some praising the move which has potentially saved thousands of jobs and kept domestic travel links.

Others have pointed out what could be seen as the setting of a dangerous precedent, with the Government on hand to give out funds to failing companies.

Tonight's guests on The West Country Debate with David Wood. Credit: ITV News West Country

Selaine Saxby, New Conservative MP for North Devon, reinforced that the Government’s main concern is making sure all parts of the UK stay connected.

However she faced challenges about the cost to the climate from the West Country’s only remaining Liberal Democrat MP, Wera Hobhouse, and Bristol West MP - the newly appointed shadow Brexit minister - Thangam Debbonaire.

Also on the show, with the news of the number of old-fashioned shoppers dropping by nearly a quarter in the West Country over the past decade, the panel discussed what future - if any- there is for our struggling high streets.

Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire says she believes for some businesses it’s too little, too late.

And with the chosen Prime Minister firmly elected into office, talks came down to the selection of new leaders for the two opposition parties.

Wera Hobhouse MP told our political correspondent David Wood that she is not ruling herself out of entering the race to take over from ousted former leader Jo Swinson.

Over in Labour’s corner, Thangam Debbonaire MP told us she’s backing Sir Keir Starmer to take over the driving seat of the Government’s main opposition - making it clear she thinks the party’s losing streak will only be broken if real change is implemented.

And finally, Selaine Saxby MP gave us her thoughts on her new job after she was elected four weeks ago.