Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has wished local residents a happy Black Country Day in a video message from Westminster.
Especially for the event, Mr Johnson recorded a short clip where he reflects on the proud heritage of the region. With his characteristic enthusiasm, the Prime Minister said:
“It’s over 300 years since Thomas Newcomen fired up the world’s first practical steam-engine. Where did he do it? In the Black Country. As a proud former resident of Wolverhampton, I’m very happy to wish everybody a happy Black Country Day”.
Mr Johnson lived in the region for a short time in the 1980s when he was a trainee reporter at the Express and Star. Working from the papers Wolverhampton offices, Mr Johnson credits the Black Country with making him the person he is today. In an interview with the New York Times, he was asked if he could remember the moment he knew he was a Conservative, Boris replied:
"When I was a 22-or-23-year-old reporter in a place called Wolverhampton, I got impatient with some of the stuff I saw going on. I felt that people were being infantilised and made dependent by the system and that the local Labour politicians had no interest in sorting it out, [They] were content to harvest these people's votes without improving their lives.
Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South, asked the nation’s leader if he had a message for the people of the Black Country on this annual day of celebration. Delighted that the PM took the time to mark the day, Mike said:
“Black Country Day is about celebrating not just our proud industrial heritage but also the strength of our community today. Gracie Sheppard’s flag has provided an amazing focus for our regional identity, boosting local business and cultural organisations.
"This is obviously a very different Black Country Day to the normal month-long Black Country festival, but it has never been more important for us to be promoting our local businesses, local tourism and all the Black Country has to offer.
“To have the Prime Minister join us in this celebration of the Black Country is a real boost for our region.”