Tory MP apologises for calling Blackpool a "godawful" place

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A Government minister has apologised for describing Blackpool as a “godawful” place.

Heather Wheeler, the Conservative MP for South Derbyshire, is also reported to have also referred to Birmingham in the same terms but said she made an “inappropriate remark that does not reflect my actual view” at a conference on Thursday.

Her apology followed reports that she appeared to go off script at an event to launch the Government’s new digital strategy, saying: “I was just at a conference in Blackpool or Birmingham or somewhere godawful.”

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She was speaking on the same day Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a major speech in Blackpool, as he sought to get his embattled premiership back on track.

Heather Wheeler MPHeather Wheeler MP
Heather Wheeler MP
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Ms Wheeler, who is a parliamentary secretary in the Cabinet Office, appeared to own up to the comments on Friday, tweeting: “Whilst speaking at a conference on Thursday, I made an inappropriate remark that does not reflect my actual view. I apologise for any offence caused.”

The reports drew scorn from the opposition, with deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner saying: “It’s frankly embarrassing that she’s still in her position as a minister.”

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Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy tweeted: “What an absolute shower. They tell us they’re levelling up the country but this is what they truly think. They can’t even tell the difference between ‘Blackpool or Birmingham or somewhere godawful’. Clueless and offensive.”

Asked for comment, the Cabinet Office pointed back to Ms Wheeler’s apology.

The South Derbyshire constituency has been represented by Ms Wheeler since 2010 and consists of rural and semi-rural settlements, including Repton, with its famous public school, in which a majority of voters have, in local elections since the Second World War, been Tory-voting, plus more historically industrial, and manufacturing-focussed settlements such as Swadlincote where the electorate has been for the most part Labour-voting.