AMONGST a busy week in Westminster and Furness, two things have dominated: the terrorist attacks on Israel, and a return to Furness by the Cabinet Secretary and a senior delegation of civil servants in support of the community as part of the Team Barrow initiative.

First, Team Barrow. For the last few years I’ve been pestering the Prime Minister and anyone else who might listen that, given the investment in the shipyard and that guarantee of generations of work that has flowed from the Government’s commitment to Dreadnought and AUKUS, it is time to look at Furness afresh and consider what we need to deliver those programmes.

A little over 10 weeks ago that work kicked off, with the Cabinet Secretary (the most senior Civil Servant in the country, reporting direct to the Prime Minister) coming to Barrow with a team of his senior reports. We have a burning platform - we need more homes, improvements in our infrastructure and public services, and to make Furness a more attractive place for people to stay and move to. The Cabinet Secretary hosted us all in Barrow Town Hall, declaring that ‘we have no choice’ but to deliver and forming ‘Team Barrow.’

Since then the team, compromising the civil service, Westmorland & Furness, and BAE, have been examining what would make the difference, taking evidence in Barrow Town Hall. On Friday we gathered again to hear their findings and take the next steps.

I’ve worked tirelessly to secure over £125million in funding for new projects in Furness over the last four years - whether that’s bringing a new university campus to town, moving the Grizebeck bypass forward, securing backing for our arts programmes, or getting the money to transform the market and start to turn around the town centre.

But Team Barrow is about looking beyond individual projects and making a step change in delivery. This next staging post gets us there - giving us the funding to make Team Barrow a proper delivery vehicle with permanent staff and a reach into central government that no other part of the country has. There are other - very exciting - announcements to come, but this is a great time for Furness… we’re at the pivot point of real change, and I’m hugely optimistic for the future.

With somewhat less optimism, I turn to the situation in Israel and Gaza. We should call out the attacks on Israel for what they are: a brutal act of terrorism. Over 1,400 people were murdered, 3,500 were wounded, and 200 hundred were taken hostage by Hamas - a terror organisation that uses innocent people as human shields, and whose charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel and Jews. There can be no equivocation about this, and Israel is right to pursue Hamas, take back hostages, deter further incursions, and strengthen its security. Of course, this should be done in line with international law and it is crucial that we continue to work with international partners in the region to ensure that this conflict does not escalate and that aid can get to those civilians who Hamas uses to shield themselves. The Prime Minister is doing just this, working with Qatar and Egypt, and meeting with President Abbas in the last few days to ensure that violence does not spread, and that Hamas’ terrorist attack does not become a catalyst for a terrible humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The only solution to this conflict is regional stability and a rejection of terror.