Fury as video shows Rishi boasting about taking money from 'deprived urban areas' for wealthy towns

5 August 2022, 14:11 | Updated: 5 August 2022, 16:08

A new video has emerged of Rishi Sunak appearing to brag about diverting funding from "deprived urban areas" at a Conservative Party leadership campaign event on July 29, 2022 in Tunbridge Wells.
A new video has emerged of Rishi Sunak appearing to brag about diverting funding from "deprived urban areas" at a Conservative Party leadership campaign event on July 29, 2022 in Tunbridge Wells. Picture: Getty

By Sophie Barnett

A new video has emerged of Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak bragging about taking money from "deprived urban areas" to help more prosperous towns.

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The former chancellor boasted that he had started changing public funding formulas to ensure more wealthy towns receive "the funding they deserve".

The video, obtained by the The New Statesman magazine, shows Mr Sunak speaking to grassroots Tories in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, during a campaign day on July 29.

In the video, Mr Sunak told Tory supporters: "I managed to start changing the funding formulas, to make sure areas like this are getting the funding they deserve because we inherited a bunch of formulas from Labour that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas and that needed to be undone.

"I started the work of undoing that."

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Mr Sunak's campaign did not dispute the video and instead defended his remarks.

They argued he changed the Treasury's green book setting the rules for government spending to help towns and rural areas also in need of investment.

Tory figures were divided over the remarks, while Labour said it was "scandalous" that Mr Sunak was "openly boasting that he fixed the rules to funnel taxpayers' money to rich Tory shires".

The controversial remarks come amid Mr Sunak's bid to become the next leader of the Conservative party - and Britain's future prime minister.

His rival, Ms Truss, is considered the frontrunner in the race, however Mr Sunak has vowed he will not concede, and pledged to "fight incredibly hard "til the last day" of the campaign.

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Labour's shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said: "This is scandalous. Rishi Sunak is openly boasting that he fixed the rules to funnel taxpayers' money to rich Tory shires.

"This is our money. It should be spent fairly and where it's most needed - not used as a bribe to Tory members.

"Talk about showing your true colours..."

Foreign Office minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said: "This is one of the weirdest - and dumbest - things I've ever heard from a politician."

Rishi Sunak speaking to Conservative party members in Tunbridge Wells.
Rishi Sunak speaking to Conservative party members in Tunbridge Wells. Picture: Getty

But Mr Sunak's supporters rallied around him, with Conservative Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen arguing Boris Johnson led the party to electoral victory on a pledge to invest in areas "that have been ignored at the expense of urban cities".

Mr Sunak's campaign did not dispute the video and instead defended its content.

"Levelling up isn't just about city centres, it's also about towns and rural areas all over the country that need help too. That's what he changed in the green book and he will follow though as prime minister," a source said.

"Travelling around the country, he's seen non-metropolitan areas that need better bus services, faster broadband or high quality schools. That's what he'll deliver as prime minister."