Liz Truss has been forced to make a screeching U-turn after controversy over her plans to save billions by cutting pay of public sector workers in the North East.

The Tory leadership contender announced  on Monday (August 1) that she would end national pay deals, meaning wages could be cut in areas where the cost of living is lower, outside of London.

Liz Truss has now abandoned her flagship policy to slash £8.8 billion from public sector pay after furious warnings from senior Conservatives that it would be “levelling down” the nation by leaving nurses, police officers and teachers poorer.

Read more: Liz Truss' plans would cut North East teachers and nurses pay

Meanwhile Labour claimed the plans would slash £7.1bn from local economies in the North, Yorkshire and Midlands.

The Tory leadership frontrunner has now scrapped the plan to pay workers in cheaper regions less than their counterparts in London and the South East on Tuesday (August 2) morning, a little over 12 hours after making the major announcement.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Secretary’s campaign claimed there had been “wilful misrepresentation” of the proposal amid growing blue-on-blue attacks, but made clear they would be dropping it and instead maintaining current levels of pay.

Conservative Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, who is backing Rishi Sunak, had said he had been left “actually speechless” by Ms Truss’s pitch to party members choosing the next prime minister.

To get more stories direct to your email basket go here

This morning he said: “There is simply no way you can do this without a massive pay cut for 5.5m people including nurses, police officers and our armed forces outside London.

“So much that we’ve worked for in places like Teesside, would be undone.”

The Northern Echo: Sunak and Houchen at a campaign event on Teesside. Picture: PASunak and Houchen at a campaign event on Teesside. Picture: PA

Ms Truss, widely seen as the frontrunner to take over in No 10, had announced the move on Monday night as part of a “war on Whitehall waste” to make savings from the Civil Service.

But Rishi Sunak’s rival campaign argued that the plan would slash the pay of nearly six million public sector workers, with nurses, police and armed forces members facing £1,500 of cuts.

Read more politics stories from The Northern Echo here

Announcing the U-turn, Ms Truss’s spokeswoman said: “Over the last few hours there has been a wilful misrepresentation of our campaign.

“Current levels of public sector pay will absolutely be maintained.

“Anything to suggest otherwise is simply wrong.

“Our hard-working frontline staff are the bedrock of society and there will be no proposal taken forward on regional pay boards for civil servants or public sector workers.”

However former Tory chief whip Mark Harper, a supporter of Rishi Sunak, said Liz Truss should "stop blaming journalists" and that, "reporting what a press release says isn’t ‘wilful misrepresentation'".

Read next:

If you want to read more great stories, why not subscribe to your Northern Echo for as little as £1.25 a week. Click here