NORTH of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll has resigned from Labour after being blocked by the party from running for another role in England's north east.

The left-wing figure hoped to be elected as the first mayor of the North East Combined Authority, which will bring together County Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland - but he claimed the party leadership blocked his candidacy without offering an explanation.

Driscoll will now seek to stand as an independent in the mayoralty contest for the expanded authority.

He said in a statement: “Millions of people feel the parties in Westminster don’t speak for them.

“They want decisions made closer to home – and not by people who are controlled by party HQs in London.”

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The National: Sir Keir Starmer has refused to commit to further spending under a Labour government amid growing calls from unions for him to back more of their policy priorities (BBC/PA)

Driscoll accused Sir Keir Starmer of breaking his promise to bring people together.

In his resignation letter to the Labour leader, the left-leaning North of Tyne mayor wrote: “Given you have barred me from running as North East mayor, despite being incumbent mayor, I have no other choice.

“In 2020 you told me to my face that you would ‘inspire people to come together … disciplining people to be united is going nowhere.’ You’ve broken that promise.

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“You’ve U-turned on so many promises: £28 billion to tackle the climate emergency, free school meals, ending university tuition fees, reversing NHS privatisation; in fact, a list of broken promises too long to repeat in this letter.

“Please stop saying ‘I make no apologies for…’ before you find yourself saying ‘I make no apologies for making no apologies’.

“It is not grown-up politics to say Britain is broken, and then claim things are now so difficult we will abandon any plan to fix it. That is mental gymnastics worthy of Olympic gold.”

He went on: “Worst of all, you’ve said you’re not interested in hope and change. Well, I am – Britain needs hope and change.

“Instead of London Labour HQ barring me from running, you could have used my work as a showcase of economic competence.“

Driscoll said his work in England’s north east has seen 5000 new jobs delivered, investment in renewable energy and a Child Poverty Prevention Programme brought in – without increasing council tax payments.

“I’ve done this by being pragmatic and putting results ahead of party politics,” said the mayor, promoting praise from across party lines.

“I think I’ve shown that hope and change is not only possible – but that it’s pragmatic, common sense response to the challenges of our time. This is not a time for faint hearts. It’s a time for bravery. Shy bairns get nowt.”

Driscoll promised to run in the North East contest if he raises £25,000 via a crowdfunder by the end of August.

At the time Driscoll was blocked, a senior Labour source linked the decision to the mayor sharing a panel with filmmaker Ken Loach (below), who was expelled from the party amid efforts to root out antisemitism from the party.

The National: Ken Loach defended Jamie Driscoll after he was blocked from running to be the North East mayor (Doug Peters/PA)

But figures on the left of the party blamed “factionalism” under Starmer's leadership, before trade union chiefs accused it of a “monumental own goal”.

Responding to his exit, a Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is delighted that local party members have selected Kim McGuinness as our candidate for the North East mayoral election next year.

“With Keir Starmer as leader, the Labour Party is a changed party, relentlessly focussed on delivering for working people, and we make no apologies that Labour candidates are held to the highest standard.

“The Tories have let our region down, and as Labour mayor, Kim will be the strong voice the North East deserves.”