Meet the Team
Jude Kirton-Darling is a Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England. Jude is a member of the International Trade Committee, the Industry, Energy and Research Committee and the Petitions Committee in the European Parliament. Jude is currently leading Labour efforts in the European Parliament to make the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, commonly known as TTIP, as fair and as transparent as possible, and has particularly opposed Investor-State Dispute settlements, or ISDS, which would function as secret international tribunals which would allow corporations to sue governments in private courts. She is also fighting to ensure that the deal excludes public services such as the NHS and that workers’ rights and environmental standards are improved rather than reduced.
Jude grew up in Middlesbrough, and is passionate about the North East, its social and industrial heritage and future. Her ancestors include rail engineers in Stephenson's works to mining engineers in Durham. This tradition of involvement in local industry continues today, as her father and brother work in energy sector design, and engineering in the region.
Jude led Europe’s steelworkers unions in negotiations with employers and the European institutions, taking up the job at the European Metalworkers’ Federation in 2008 just months before Lehmann Brothers crashed. She provided support to One North East to help ensure a future for steelworkers in Teesside at a time when unions were campaigning hard to Save Our Steel. This showed Judith's dedication to preserving a key part of the North East's industrial future.
With nearly 15 years of experience working within the Labour and trade union movement, she was elected Confederal Secretary at the European Trade Union Congress in 2011. She is able to draw on wide-ranging experience and knowledge, having represented workers in the service and communications sectors (notably fighting for rights for call centre workers and agency workers), manufacturing and basic industries.
She previously directed European trade union work in the areas of energy, industrial policy, environment and health and safety, all key areas for the European Union and the North-East in the years ahead.
Paul Brannen is a Labour Member of European Parliament for the North East of England. Paul is a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee in the European Parliament.
During his time in the European Parliament Paul has developed a specific interest in forestry and the use of wood in the construction industry. He is working to see the creation of new forests in the North East ideally closer to where the bulk of the population lives. New forests would provide a place for people to relax and take exercise, the trees would filter and clean the air, they would help increase wildlife and ultimately we will have wood to make things. All the while the trees and timber products are soaking up carbon thereby helping to tackle climate change. Parts of these new forests should also be dedicated to agro-forestry where trees are mixed with crops and/or animals in such a way that one benefits the other and overall production goes up. Three new forests in the North East of England could help drive the creation of many new jobs, good quality jobs being what the region needs more than anything else.
Paul Brannen grew up on Tyneside, the eldest of four children. His father was, and is, an active campaigner for social justice, helping establish the first Oxfam shop in North Shields, and he encouraged Paul from an early age to take an interest in international development and the wider world. Paul took up debating as a pupil at Walbottle High School in Newcastle, winning the Northumbria Police Debating Competition.
Paul studied theology and religious studies at Leeds University and it was here that he found his political feet. He became an active member of the Anti-Apartheid Society, the Labour Club and the Amnesty Group. He was well known for standing up for progressive causes, including picketing Barclays Bank in opposition to its support for apartheid. In his final year at Leeds he was President of the Students’ Union.
After Leeds University Paul worked for the Anti-Apartheid Movement in London where working highlights including disrupting the Mike Gatting rebel tour to South Africa and meeting Nelson Mandela shortly after his release from jail.
Paul then worked as a press officer for the Labour Party during the period of the leadership of Neil Kinnock. After the 1992 General Election he became Christian Aid's first ever Head of Campaigns, leading their work on fair trade which led to the first fairly traded products in the mainstream supermarkets and the creation of the Fairtrade Mark.
Returning to the North East, Paul worked for the leadership development organisation Common Purpose and as a result he has a strong network of political, business and voluntary sector contacts across the region.
Paul served five years on Newcastle City Council and twice stood for the Westminster Parliament; Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1997 and Hexham in 2001.
Following the successful completion of an MBA at Durham University Paul returned to London to work for Christian Aid as Head of Advocacy, a role which put him in charge of the organisation's policy, campaigning, lobbying and media work. In this leadership role Paul was responsible for major campaigns on climate change and tax justice.
Paul was selected by Labour Party members in the North East to be their lead male candidate in the 2014 EU election. After a hard fought election campaign he was successfully elected to the European Parliament in May, along with Jude Kirton-Darling, to represent the region for a five year term or till Brexit, whichever comes first.
Paul is a member of the GMB trade union, the Co-op Party, SERA, Christians on the Left and the Northern Counties Club. He lives in Newcastle.