Working people in the northern towns of England have been told to “accept lower wages” if they want to compete with the south a top aide of Rishi Sunak has said.

The Chancellor has been asked to explain why he takes advice from economist Tim Leunig who has been accused of seeing the North as “a lost cause”.

Mr Sunak, who is accused of stopping cash for key “levelling up” projects in the North, could face further pressure from northern MPs in light of the comments.

Rishi Sunak aide says northerners should accept lower wages

Mr Leunig, who was hired as an economic advisor in 2019 by current health secretary Sajid Javid, said northerners should accept lower wages because “London is London”.

A think tank report called Cities Unlimited penned by Mr Leunig has sparked controversy after he wrote “the only way towns and cities that are less well connected (...) can compete to attract firms is to accept lower wages", reports the Mirror.

The paper adds: “The North, the power house of the industrial revolution, is now a less desirable location for business for reasons that are geographical and entirely outside its control or that of central and local government.”

Calls for Rishi Sunak to explain why he takes advice from Tim Leunig

Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, Dan Carden, told The Mirror: "The Chancellor's most senior advisors see the North as a lost cause and beyond revival.

"They think people in the North should settle for lower wages to compete with the rest of England.

"The reality is that it is this government’s rehashed Thatcherite policies that are driving down wages and job security, while investing a fraction of the infrastructure spending into the north, that is handed to London each year.”

He added: "Rishi Sunak must explain why he is taking advice from someone who has written off the North and clearly doesn't understand the vast potential value of our regional economies."