Tory MP mocked by audience on BBC Question Time for response to levelling up failings

'These things take time', 'You've had 14 years'

Tory Minister Nigel Huddleston BBC Question Time

During BBC Question Time this week Tory MP Nigel Huddleston was mocked by the audience for his response after he was grilled on levelling up funding.  

The Tories flagship levelling up agenda was a hot topic for people in Stoke-on-Trent where the latest Question Time episode took place. Host Fiona Bruce said the show had received many questions about when the benefits of levelling up funding could be expected in the city. 

Making his debut to Question Time, the Treasury Minister was told by one audience member that there was little evidence of any levelling up in Stoke-on-Trent, despite the city receiving £56m for this purpose in 2021. 

The audience member said: “It’s now 2024 and all that I have seen is a multi-storey car park flattened and another one has been built. When will we see some levelling up in Stoke-on-Trent?”

In his response, Huddleston started off by telling the audience “these things take time”, which was met with an eruption of laughter and one person shouting from the audience “you’ve had 14 years”. 

The Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire said the area was receiving multiple financial investments like the Transforming Cities Fund and highlighted other initiatives taking place, before adding that “these things don’t happen overnight”. 

He went on to say: “I get the frustration if you’re not seeing it, but levelling up is real, it is happening, it is important because you need it. Because the reality is.. Labour took you for granted for too long… it’s really important that we invest in places like Stoke.”

To which the presenter stepped in and said: “I think you probably don’t need to tell them that it’s really important to invest, I think they know it already.”

Recent analysis by a parliamentary committee found the government was unable to provide any compelling examples of what levelling up funding had delivered so far, citing delays holding back spending. It found just over 10% of promised funds have actually been spent.

One social media reacted: “”These things take time” – How much time did it take the Tories to set up a WhatsApp VIP lane and dish out billions in crony contracts for substandard PPE?”

Another person responded: “You keep talking about levelling up, if you had funded Councils properly, they wouldn’t need levelling up would they ? I think people would like more well paid full-time jobs , more industry and manufacturing jobs, decent social housing . You really haven’t got a clue !”

The Tory MP was also probed over the UK Government’s continued arms supplies to Israel and huge NHS waiting lists.

This week’s panel included Labour’s Shadow Secretary for international development Lisa Nandy MP; author and politics and economics Commentator Grace Blakeley; and Chief Executive of the PureGym chain Humphrey Cobbold.

(Image credit: BBC Question Time screenshot)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

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