MICHAEL Gove made light of his nightclub dancing exploits before insisting levelling up means helping everyone “live their best life” – and claimed it was coming to reality in parts of the North East.

Mr Gove said if you want to see “levelling up in reality come to Teesside” – and credited Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen with some of its success.

But Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said the Chancellor will take “£1,000 a year from the pockets of 75,000 Teesside households and almost £1.5 million a week from the Tees Valley economy”.

The Communities Secretary was caught on camera throwing shapes on the dancefloor during a summer visit to the Pipe club night in Aberdeen.

Read more: Stockton man jailed for ten months for dangerous driving which killed dad

With Abba’s Dancing Queen played in the auditorium before he arrived on stage at Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Gove opened by saying: “Here we are – bright lights, great atmosphere, enthusiastic young people.

“It reminds me of my last night out on the town in Aberdeen – dance like nobody’s watching they say.

“Well I did, but they were watching.

“And I know many people have recently been asking why a middle-aged man spent more than an hour non-stop unleashing a series of wildly unco-ordinated gestures in front of a bewildered audience, who were left wondering if this was some sort of bizarre attempt to go back to the ’80s.

“But enough of Keir Starmer’s conference speech.”

Mr Gove then made an attempt to explain what the “levelling-up” slogan actually means.

He initially highlighted the work of former Tory prime ministers Benjamin Disraeli and Margaret Thatcher in trying to improve people’s lives.

Mr Gove, who leads the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, told party members: “Never let anyone claim that levelling up and wanting all our children to grow tall is a left-wing idea.

“The left want to keep people in their place so that minorities can be patronised, the country can be polarised and ambition is paralysed.

“We want everyone to have the chance to choose their own future, to own their own home, to walk the streets in safety and to live their best life.”

Mr Gove added the slogan also means four things.

He said: “We want to strengthen local leadership to drive real change.

“We will raise living standards, especially where they are lower.

“We will improve public services, especially where they are weaker.

“And we will give people the resources necessary to enhance the pride they feel in the place they live.

“And if you want to see all four in action and see levelling up in reality come to Teesside.”

Mr Cunningham added: “Coupled with Tory tax hikes and rises in food and energy costs, people’s living standards are being squeezed not raised. The Conservative Government talks big about “levelling up” but taking money from people and out of the local economy does the complete opposite.”

Mr Gove’s speech was light on specific policy details for the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

He stated his department would be focused on investing in urban regeneration, new homes on brownfield sites and helping more renters to own their own properties.

Local government will also be “empowered”, Mr Gove added.

Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South, said: "It's very encouraging to see Teesside at the heart of conversation here at the Party Conference. Under Labour, the North East was brushed aside and forgotten about.

"Now, we are rightly the focal point for jobs, growth and investment. Whether it's the treasury jobs in Darlington, the freeport ir the tens of millions that have been pledged to revitalise left behind communities across our area, Teesside is experiencing the tangible effects of the Levelling Up agenda."

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It was fantastic to be able to welcome Michael Gove to Teesworks on his very first visit as the new Secretary of State for levelling up. 

“When he was here he said that ‘if you want to know what levelling up looks like, look at Teesside’ and he is absolutely right. 

“At Teesworks we’ll see the creation of 18,000 jobs over the next 5-years through the Teesside Freeport, these are not jobs of the future they are been created right now. GE’s mammoth facility to manufacture blades for offshore wind turbines will create over 2,000 good-quality jobs when construction get underway in a few weeks time and the new heavy lift quay which got underway last week will create hundreds more well paid jobs. 

“Securing the Northern Economic Hub for Darlington will see over 1,000 senior civil service jobs come to the town as major government departments, including the Treasury, setup shop in the town. Have Rishi and other senior civil servants working from Darlington on a regular basis will hugely raise aspirations and show that you can have a rewarding career at the heart of government without having to leave the town you call home and move to London, Leeds or Manchester.”

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