Head-hunted by Sellafield in 2000 to mastermind the Union’s ‘Save Our Sellafield’ campaign following the damaging MOX falsification scandal in 1999, Jamie Reid was elected in 2005 as the Member of Parliament for the Copeland constituency in West Cumbria in which the Sellafield plant is situated . During his time at Westminster he served variously as Labour’s Shadow Environment Minister and as Shadow Health Minister.
Not the greatest of fans of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Jamie Reid resigned as his Shadow Health Minister in 2015 citing his leader’s opposition to nuclear power. He later called for Corbyn’s resignation following the Brexit vote in which Copeland’s voters overwhelmingly supported leaving the EU despite their MP’s plea to remain.
Due to take up his new position as Sellafield’s Head of Development and Community Relations on 1st February 2017, he has told the media that by working at Sellafield he could achieve more for the local community than he would at Westminster, and claimed that he would not be a ‘propagandist’ for the nuclear industry. Many observers will take the claim with a pinch of salt given that, as Copeland’s MP he has been a resolute propagandist for Sellafield and the driving force behinds the plans by NuGeneration (NuGen) to develop a new nuclear power station on its Moorside site directly adjacent to Sellafield.
Returning to his old Sellafield stomping ground in the New Year – apparently at a greater salary than that he enjoyed at Westminster – his new paymasters will doubtless expect him to toe the company line even more resolutely than before.
With a majority of 6320 when first elected in 2005, Jamie Reid’s majority had dwindled to 2564 in the 2015 General Election. His departure from Westminster will trigger a by-election in a Copeland constituency that has become a marginal seat with the Conservative and UKIP parties snapping at Labour’s heels. Adding further doubts to Copeland’s political future are the current proposals by the Boundary Commission for England whose boundary changes in Cumbria could see the county’s six parliamentary constituencies reduced to five – and the loss of one MP – by the next General Election in 2020. Though the proposals are still at a relatively early stage, the Copeland and its northern neighbour constituency of Workington are already in the frame as likely candidates for merger into one parliamentary seat.
Whilst through his resignation as an MP today Jamie Reid will escape the constituency border bun fight, but will doubtless be counting continued parliamentary support for Sellafield from the Workington MP Sue Hayman and from John Woodcock in the Barrow and Furness constituency to the south.