DEPUTY Leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner slammed the Conservatives for only ‘looking after their mates’ when she visited the North-East today.

Ms Rayner joined Labour Leader Keir Starmer on a tour of the Milburngate development in Durham City before visiting Hartlepool.

Speaking in Durham, Ms Rayner was critical of what she believes is a lack of opportunities for people born without privilege to get ahead under a Conservative government.

She said: "What's frustrating is that we've seen from the Conservatives nationally they look after their mates.

"What we want is a level, fair playing field for people.

"That's what people across the whole of the North-East want.

"They want their children to have the opportunities and at the moment we are seeing that actually inequality is growing in the UK.

"The Social Mobility Commission left the government because they were absolutely disgusted with what's happening.

"And unless you really tackle those issues, you won't be able to let people get on and get by across the whole of the North-East and across the whole of the United Kingdom.

"And that's the frustration for me.

"Opportunities are closing down under the Conservatives, not opening up, and that is why we are creating the environment where young people across the whole of the North-East can get those opportunities and those skills and invest in having a good life and a happy life and good wellbeing.

"And that's important to people."

The Northern Echo:

Keir Starmer on his visit to Durham Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Mr Starmer and Ms Rayner’s visit to the region today comes less than a week before a crucial by-election vote in Hartlepool.

Labour have held the seat since it was formed in 1974 but the Conservatives have been campaigning hard to win another brick in the so-called Red Wall.

Speaking in Durham, Keir Starmer again pressed the issue of jobs creation in Hartlepool and said the town was a good example of what the Conservatives ‘haven’t done’ for the region.

He said: “You have got a nuclear plant that is about to come to the end of its natural life and there is no plan for the future.

“You’ve got custody suites which have gone from Hartlepool.

“You have a hospital there that Paul Williams (Labour candidate) had to do the hard work to get the services in there.

“You have got Liberty Steel where people’s jobs are on the line and the Prime Minister has done nothing about it.

“So if you want evidence of what they are not doing – look at Hartlepool.”