It's rare for a leading politician to feature in a book-related news story, but Tony Blair claims that honor this week. During "Prime Minister's Questions" on Wednesday, Blair was asked by Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington West and Gateshead East, whether he would support the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels from the British Library to their Northumbrian homeland.
Blair responded: "Well, as I am sure my Honourable friend is aware, it is obviously a matter for the British Library Board to decide where the Gospels are located. But I certainly share my Honourable friend's desire to see them widely available in the North-East. I know she has met recently the minister concerned in order to discuss it and I am perfectly happy to give her any support I can in making sure that as many people in the North-East get access to what is obviously a huge cultural icon for people there."
Local authorities are hoping to arrange a short-term loan for the Gospels so that they can be displayed in a three-month exhibition at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. A spokesperson for the Association of North East Councils told the Sunderland News "All of the region's 25 councils support a short-term loan of the gospels to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. A short loan to Sunderland would give the public an opportunity to experience a unique part of their heritage while giving a significant boost to the regeneration of the city. The gospels remain one of the region's greatest and most beautiful treasures."
MP Hodgson and several colleagues have scheduled a meeting with BL officials to make their case.