LIZ TRUSS has just lost the north. However she tries to spin it, at the core of her regional pay board plan was an attempt to drive down the wages of public sector workers and so save the Government money at the expense of people living outside the south-east.

It shows she has failed to understand what levelling up is all about and why it is so necessary.

You cannot level up if your number one ambition is to drive down pay in the regions. You cannot level up if your stated desire is to create a country in which the inequalities between places become even more deeply entrenched than they already are. You cannot level up if you deliberately intend to remove money from the regional economy.

As mayor Ben Houchen said, it is a “horrifically bad” plan.

Ms Truss does not understand that levelling up aims to save the south from overcrowding by giving people outside London opportunities to stay in their home regions. If you are going to pay people more in the south east than they can get in the North East, the best nurses and teachers are going to be sucked out of the region.

Fearing a lack of understanding, newspapers in the north last week united to urge the two candidates not to turn their backs on the regions. But Ms Truss’ plan would have done just that.

Coming so soon after her childish comments about Scotland – just ignore them, she said – this lack of judgement raises profound questions about her suitability to be Prime Minister. Just what can she be trusted with?