I am so grateful for the thousands of conversations I had throughout the city in the lead up to the election and for your continued support for me to represent you in Parliament at such a volatile time in our politics.

As we shared stories, experiences, hopes and aspirations on the doorstep, we created a picture of a city and nation that we longed to see. It is now my responsibility to strive for that.

As we start this new decade, I seek to support you, campaign with you and advocate for you, both locally and nationally to address the key issues of our time. I will take every opportunity to advance your needs, and those of our city and country.

This week, the UK leaves the European Union.

While people have very different perspectives on this, it is now vital that we do not let it divide us.

Europe is an important partner, and we must now focus on building a positive relationship across the EU, securing the rights and freedoms we have enjoyed over the last 40 years.

In this new era, it is essential that we make progress in advancing our rights and protections and the many gains we have made are not lost.

As the new Shadow Employment Rights Secretary of State, my first focus is to make sure every worker sees enhancement to their working conditions.

Europe did advance workers’ rights, whether family-friendly working, regulating the time we spent at work or protecting workers transferring to new employers.

Today there are many areas where new rights and protections are needed. Stress, mental health and wellbeing, bullying and insecure work are the new challenges that require regulation.

I will be using my role to advance this work and to ensure that the local job scene in York improves.

I believe that York Central has the potential to unlock high quality jobs for the whole city, if wise decisions are made to put the local economy first. If nothing else, the recent suggestion that the House of Lords could move to York demonstrates the enormous potential of the York Central site which has been seriously underplayed to date.

In writing to the Prime Minister about the proposed move, I highlighted how the site could play a major role in transforming the economy of the North.

However the site’s potential can only be fulfilled if the council administration drops its obsession with stacking thousands of luxury apartments on the site and instead focuses on creating jobs and business opportunities that match the needs and potential of our city.

In this new era, I want to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing York.

We need a health service, and in particular, mental health service, that meets the needs of people across our community.

We need to build the homes that people can afford to live in.

We need a sustainable transport system that addresses the climate challenges of our time.

And above all these, we need to address the structural inequalities that are dividing our city.

But it’s not going to be easy. Not being in Government matters. It means that it will be much more difficult to secure the resources needed to redress the challenges facing us each day.

To lose shuts a door, it builds a wall, it suffocates opportunity, it makes the mountain higher and the oceans deeper; it hurts those struggling and most in need.

But you have handed me the power to do everything I can to fight, and I mean fight, for you, my constituents. To bring hope to where there is despair; to speak truth to power; to shine light in the darkness and to show that there is another way.

Our spirits cannot be killed. Our beliefs cannot be quashed. Our dreams can only grow. Our voices get louder. Our determination more prevalent. Our passions deeper. Our labour harder. Our service stronger.

So, I will climb that mountain and will search the depths of that ocean.

I will open that door and tear down that wall. I will light the flame and let it burn as we challenge each and every burning injustice.

Let’s have hope as we embark on this new decade.