Hartlepool gets stuck into MP who cashed chips for gravy train

It is said that Peter Mandelson never endeared himself to his Hartlepool constituents after a story ­ perhaps apocryphal ­ emerged that he confused the fish and chip shop side order of mushy peas with guacamole, a rather more metropolitan delicacy.

It is said that Peter Mandelson never endeared himself to his Hartlepool constituents after a story ­ perhaps apocryphal ­ emerged that he confused the fish and chip shop side order of mushy peas with guacamole, a rather more metropolitan delicacy.

Certainly some voters were shedding no tears yesterday at the news that their MP for the last 12 years would be leaving.

Maxine Leck, 34, a kitchen assistant, said: "It's not a good decision for the country but it might be for Hartlepool ­ he has not been good for the town."

Trevor Bramley, a 52-year-old fireman, said: "Blair was wrong to give Mandelson this position."

Others, such as Brian Dukes, 71, a retired steel worker, sensed cronyism in the appointment. "Here we go again with the old pals act between Blair and Mandelson," he said. "As far as I am concerned ­ and most of Hartlepool I think ­ it is jolly good riddance."

But if they thought their next MP would lack the fame ­ or perhaps infamy ­ of Mr Mandelson, then they could soon be in for a shock. Robert Kilroy-Silk, the former television presenter adopted as mascot of the UK Independence Party, immediately expressed an interest in succeeding the future EU commissioner, who had a majority of 14,500 at the last election.

Mr Kilroy-Silk, who caused an upset in the Euro elections by winning a seat for UKIP in the East Midlands, said: "I am coming under considerable pressure from the party to do so. I am seriously considering doing it.

"This appointment of Mandelson shows that the European Union is a gravy train for failed politicians," he added, getting the war of political words off to a premature start.

"Hartlepool is a fishing port which has been decimated by the European fisheries policy," said a UKIP spokesman. "The Liberal Democrats will find it hard to justify their pro-European stance there. We can attract Old Labour voters who may not take kindly to seeing their MP desert them for Brussels."

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