PRIME Minister Boris Johnson pledged to get “big nuclear things” done in a personalised welcome to Copeland Council’s elected mayor after he joined the Conservative Party.

The PM’s message came in a video sent to Mike Starkie after he announced this week that he was joining the party, days after major new nuclear plans for the Moorside site which could create thousands of jobs were revealed.

The message said: “I’m just saying a big, big thank you to Mike Starkie.

“Thanks for joining our party, you won’t regret it.

“We’re going to get massive things done and we’re going to get big, big nuclear things done as well.”

Mr Starkie said he was “delighted” to receive the welcome and felt the message on nuclear made the future seem “bright”.

“Boris Johnson is someone who is clearly very busy, particularly at this time, so for him to take the time out to do that, I’m extremely grateful,” he said.

“I am more optimistic about the future of Moorside than ever because there are a lot of big companies showing an interest.

“The future looks bright with nuclear which can only be a good thing for Copeland and clearly from the message off the PM he is supporting our efforts.”

Unions, businesses and politicians welcomed the launch of the Moorside Clean Energy Hub project on Tuesday, proposing the development of two new EPR-type reactors – the same design that is being constructed at Hinkley Point C in Somerset – as part of a clean energy park.

The hub also hopes to attract developments for small and advanced modular reactors and to link with renewables and green hydrogen projects to "create an integrated clean energy hub for the North West."

Mr Starkie’s decision to join the Conservatives was not welcomed by everyone, with Copeland Labour leader Mike McVeigh accusing him of “betrayal” for joining after being elected as an independent.

Mr McVeigh said: "Working alongside you at the council, we have known of your ideology for some time – but we have set aside any disagreements to work together for the greater good, because we believed that was what was best for the citizens of our borough.

"Indeed, at the elections last May you campaigned, again, on a platform of political neutrality.

"Your slogan was ‘Your mayor not a party mayor’ and, on the back of this, you were widely supported."