BORIS Johnson has said he would ‘do his utmost’ to attend Durham Miners’ Gala, the annual North-East celebration of working-class culture made up of traditional brass bands and left wing political speeches.

The Prime Minister, who won over tens of thousands of traditional Labour Party supporters to win last week’s General Election, said he ‘wished he could’ attend The Big Meeting, which still attracts 200,000 people.

But Durham Miners' Association has said he will not be invited to next summer's event.

The Tory leader, who now enjoys an 80-seat majority after gaining support from former coalfield communities, made the eyebrow-raising comments during a flying visit to the region on Saturday.

At a victory rally in Sedgefield, he vowed to repay the trust Labour voters have put in him and the Conservative Party to secure them five years in power.

But his comments regarding the Gala, following a campaign when his honesty was repeatedly called into question, also raises doubts over his sincerity.

Mr Johnson, speaking in his predecessor Tony Blair’s former constituency, insisted he was not there to ‘rub salt in Labour’s wounds’ but to commit to helping the region.

Video of Boris Johnson's full speech in Sedgefield on Saturday 

He said he would lead a ‘One Nation’ Government, adding: “I’m here to say to the people of Sedgefield, the North-East and the country that I understand the immensity of the change and how big a decision it is to vote for another party, but you have done the right thing.

“We are changing the country for the better, taking the whole country forward.”

The Northern Echo:

Mr Johnson posing for a selfie on Saturday

As he left, before chants of ‘Boris, Boris, Boris’, Mr Johnson was asked by The Northern Echo, which covers The Big Meeting each year, whether he would be attending the 136th Durham Miners’ Gala.

Mr Johnson said: “I wish I could. When is it?”

Next year’s event is on Saturday, July 11.

Mr Johnson said: “I will do my utmost, I will do my utmost.”

The Northern Echo:

Durham Miners' Gala is the biggest trade union event in Europe

Last week, Michael Gove got loud cheers from supporters after the General Election win with his pointed claim the gala would now take place in a Tory seat.

After listing some of the newly-elected MPs and their seats he, incorrectly, added: “Both the Durham Miner’s Gala and the Notting Hill Carnival will take place in seats held by Conservatives.”

While the swathes of the political landscape in County Durham have changed from red to blue, the Durham City seat was won by Labour’s Mary Foy, with 42 per cent of the vote.

She was quick to point his error on Twitter, with a stinging put down.

The Northern Echo:

City of Durham MP Mary Foy

She replied: “Mary Foy here, the new MP for the City of Durham. Sorry to disappoint you and Boris but the 136th Durham Miners’ Gala will be in an, as always, Labour seat.

“Oh, and you’re not invited. Ever. #Fools.”

Mr Gove may have been confusing it with North West Durham, which covers towns and villages outside the city, including Consett and Crook.

It is now held by Conservative Richard Holden, who overturned Labour’s Laura Pidcock’s 8,792 majority from 2017.

In summer, Ms Pidcock, who was tipped as a future Labour Party leader, gave a barnstorming anti-Tory speech at the event alongside outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn, a regular headline speaker for last few years.

The prevalence of socialist political ideology and passionate speeches from politicians and trade unionists mean it is unlikely Mr Johnson would receive a warm welcome at event, first held in 1871.

At Saturday’s rally, Paul Howell, the new MP for Sedgefield who has replaced Phil Wilson, said his attendance at the gala is unlikely and would be ‘antagonistic’.

The Northern Echo:

Darlington MP Peter Gibson

But Peter Gibson, who has taken over from Jenny Chapman as Darlington MP, said: “I have achieved phenomenal amounts of support from areas that have traditionally have elected Labour councillors and would have been a ‘no-go’ area for Conservatives but I received overwhelming support in these parts of town.

“I am going to be the member of parliament for all of those people and if that includes inviting Boris Johnson to Durham Miners’ Gala at some point in the future then so be it.

“I am sure he would be delighted to attend.”

However, while he could attend in a private capacity, organisers at Durham Miners’ Association have said Mr Johnson would not be invited to sit on the stage where, in recent years, speakers such as recently ousted MP Dennis Skinner, the Beast of Bolsover, have enjoyed huge cheers for anti-Tory rhetoric.

Why the tidal wave of Toryism in coalfield communities?

The popularity of Jeremy Corbyn soon after he became Labour leader was largely credited with a renewed popularity of the event, which has attracted crowds of up to 200,000 on Durham Racecourse.

But Tony Blair, in his ten years as premier did not attend, so it would be even more unusual for a Conservative PM to attend the largest socialist gathering in Europe, despite Mr Johnson’s apparent surge in support among former pit communities.

The Northern Echo:

Stephen Guy, of Durham Miners’ Association

Stephen Guy, executive member of Durham Miners’ Association, said no Tory MP has ever attended as a guest and the last Labour Prime Minister to speak was Harold Wilson.

Mr Guy said: “Johnson would not be welcome as far as I am concerned.

“He will certainly not be getting an invite.

“In light of the comments Gove came out with and Johnson’s response to the question, we might send him a gentle reminder of the geography of the North-East and the importance of the Gala.

“Our allegiance is still with the Labour Party and those allegiances are deep and I think Johnson recognises that.”