Labour’s Stockton candidates have demanded the Home Secretary come to the town and make a public apology after he was accused of calling it a a ‘s**thole’.

Joe Dancey and Chris McDonald Labour candidates for Stockton West and Stockton North, respectively have written to Conservative chairman Richard Holden expressing their disgust over the slur on the town in response to a question about child poverty.

Mr Cleverly denies making the derogatory remark about Stockton after Labour MP Alex Cunningham spoke at Prime Minister’s Questions.The Northern Echo: James Cleverly has been accused of insulting the Teesside town

But Mr Cunningham has been joined by fellow Labour candidates for his Teesside constituency in demanding an apology from the Braintree MP.

Writing to Mr Holden, MP for North West Durham, this evening the two MPs said: “As Labour's parliamentary candidates for Stockton West and Stockton North at the next general election we are writing to express our disgust at a member of the Conservative Party appearing to describe Stockton in derogatory terms today at PMQ's in response to the question by Alex Cunningham MP on child poverty.

“This appalling statement from one of the Conservative Party's ministers is both a slur on decent people in Stockton and on our historic town with its successful businesses, brilliant schools vibrant community groups as well as many stunning high streets and parks across the borough.

“This unacceptable insult to Stockton has no place in public life from conservative ministers.”

They go on to add: “A Chairman of the Party responsible for its conduct we write to request that you ensure that the MP in question now takes responsibility for their words, owns up immediately and makes a public apology here in Stockton for the serious offence caused to Teesside. . .

“To hear conservatives talking down our town and attacking Stockton in such crude terms is unacceptable so we look forward to your reply by return notifying us of an apology.”

Earlier, making a point of order in the Commons later on Wednesday, Mr Cunningham, who represents Stockton North, said: “Before the Prime Minister answered, the Home Secretary chose to add in his pennyworth.

“Yes, I have contacted his office advising him I planned to name him, but sadly he has chosen not to be in the chamber.

“He was seen and heard to say ‘because it’s a s**thole’.

“I know he is denying being the culprit, but the audio is clear and has been checked, and checked, and checked again.

“There is no doubt that these comments shame the Home Secretary, this rotten Government, and the Tory Party.

“He is clearly unfit for his high office.”

Mr Cunningham, asked how he could secure an apology from the Home Secretary for “his appalling insult and foul language” about his seat in the North East.

Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing said it was her understanding that Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle “didn’t hear any remark of the kind from the chair at the time when the honourable gentleman was asking his question”.

She said: “I understand that the alleged words were not actually used, though I appreciate what (Mr Cunningham) says.

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“But I think we all know that it’s very difficult in the noisy atmosphere of Prime Minister’s Questions to discern exactly what someone says.

“So I can make no judgment here from the chair as to what was or wasn’t said.”

The Northern Echo has contacted Teesside MPs Matt Vickers, Simon Clarke and Jacob Young as well as Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden for comment but none have responded.

Ben Houchen, the Tees Valley Mayor, who was ennobled by Boris Johnson, declined to comment on the matter.