UK PM hopeful Sunak under fire over boast he moved funding from deprived areas

3 days ago 36

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Mr Rishi Sunak insisted he is not out of the Conservative leadership contest after his campaign suffered another blow when a video emerged of him boasting about deliberately moving funding away from deprived urban areas of the UK while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In an interview with GB News published late Friday (Aug 5), Mr Sunak said he had spoken to thousands of party members in recent days and that the contest is closer than suggested by a bombshell YouGov poll on Tuesday, which found his rival Liz Truss had a huge 34-point lead with Tory members.

"I'm getting a really positive reception where I'm going and I'm enjoying having those conversations with our members," Mr Sunak said, adding: "I think the race is closer than it might appear in the newspapers."

But Mr Sunak's campaign spent Friday on the back foot as he faced widespread criticism over his remarks about reversing government funding for deprived urban areas.

The comments seemed at odds with the Tory election pledge to "level up" less well-off areas of the country including northern England and the Midlands, under the premise that wealthier areas in the southeast have enjoyed the economic spoils for too long. Mr Sunak was speaking to a group of Tory activists in Royal Tunbridge Wells, southeast of London, at the time.

The backlash from across the political spectrum also undermined his campaign's push to present Mr Sunak as the more electable of the two candidates.

"I managed to start changing the funding formulas to make sure that areas like this are getting the funding that they deserve," Mr Sunak said in the video. The New Statesman, which published the footage, said it was filmed on July 29.

"We inherited a bunch of formulas from the Labour Party that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas and that needed to be undone. I started the work of undoing that."

Tunbridge Wells is a traditional Conservative stronghold and is a relatively affluent seat in southeast England, althou...

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