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Rishi Sunak’s speech on funding urban areas ‘misunderstood’, says Tory ex-MP

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theguardian.com

Former minister Andrew Mitchell has defended Rishi Sunak, claiming his comments on taking money from deprived urban areas and redirecting it towards more prosperous towns such as Tunbridge Wells were “misunderstood”.The former chancellor sparked outrage after he made the admission while speaking to Conservative party members in the affluent Kent town on Friday.“I managed to start changing the funding formulas to make sure areas like this are getting the funding they deserved,” Sunak said in comments captured on video.“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.”Tunbridge Wells has a Tory majority of 14,645 and has been held by the Conservatives since 1974 when the constituency was formed.Mitchell, who is a supporter of Sunak’s Tory leadership bid, claimed it was a misunderstanding and that Sunak was in fact talking about the red wall.“I think it’s been misunderstood because, first of all, Rishi, when in government, produced significant sums as chancellor of the exchequer to help with the levelling up agenda and to address funding needs specifically in red wall seats in our poorest areas, but also in areas like mine, which are not part of the red wall and are not one of the poorest areas in the country,” the Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield told Times Radio on Saturday. “Indeed, Sutton Coldfield is one of the most affluent.”While Mitchell admitted that needs are “far greater elsewhere”, he said taxpayer support will be needed to rejuvenate high streets and town centres.“Now, I’m not saying for a moment that the needs aren’t far greater elsewhere, but we will not be able to rejuvenate our high street

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