A HIGH-PROFILE Tory mayor and peer has called on the Home Secretary to apologise for his “childish” language after he was accused of calling an English town a “sh**hole”.

Although he has denied saying it, James Cleverly is widely thought to have called Stockton-on-Tees a “sh**hole” during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday after a question on high child poverty rates in the area.

Labour’s Alex Cunningham, the MP for the town, told parliament: “He was seen and heard to say ‘because it’s a s***hole’. I know he is denying being the culprit, but the audio is clear and has been checked, and checked, and checked again.”

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And now Ben Houchen (above), the Conservative mayor of Tees Valley who was born in Stockton-on-Tees, has demanded an apology, ignoring Cleverly’s claims that he “did not say that”.

Houchen, who was made a Lord in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list, said in a statement that he is “not interested in excuses and I will always put our area above party politics”.

He went on: “It is clear to me that the Home Secretary should apologise for dragging Stockton's name through the mud.

“Having made huge progress in recent years with major investment, thousands of jobs and Teesside forging a brighter future in the industries of the future including a new era of steelmaking, this type of language only furthers the outdated and inaccurate stereotypes we've battled for years.

“We're a wonderful place and a passionate and proud community, and people across the world are looking at the exciting future that is emerging before us — but childish and unprofessional language used by Westminster politicians, who should know better, does nothing to help our plans for progress.”

A spokesperson for Cleverly previously insisted: “He did not say that, and would not. He’s disappointed people would accuse him of doing so.”

On Thursday, a "source close to the Home Secretary" claimed that Cleverly had made the comment, but that it had been misheard. 

They said: “James made a comment. He called Alex Cunningham a shit MP. He apologises for unparliamentary language.

“As was made clear yesterday, he would never criticise Stockton. He’s campaigned in Stockton and is clear that it is a great place.”

Houchen has been mayor of Tees Valley since narrowly defeating Labour in 2017. He held onto the position in 2021, leading to being granted a peerage.