Rishi Sunak filmed bragging about diverting public funds from 'deprived urban areas'

The Tory leadership candidate's team have defended his comments, saying levelling up is about the whole country

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Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak proudly told party members he had been working to divert funding from “deprived urban areas” towards prosperous towns.

The former chancellor bragged that he had started changing public funding formulas to ensure more prosperous towns receive “the funding they deserve”.

The New Statesman magazine, which obtained video revealing Mr Sunak’s remarks, said they were made to grassroots Tories in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on July 29.

Labour said it was “scandalous” that Mr Sunak was “openly boasting that he fixed the rules to funnel taxpayers’ money to rich Tory shires”.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

The Sunak campaign defended the remarks, arguing he changed the Treasury’s green book setting the rules for government spending to help towns and rural areas also in need of investment.

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.”

Rishi blamed Labour 'for shoving funding into deprived areas'
Rishi blamed Labour 'for shoving funding into deprived areas'

The remarks from last week came as Mr Sunak tries to make up ground against Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to win the backing of party members who will choose the next prime minister.

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…”

Mr Sunak’s campaign defend the contents of the video.

“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.”