James Cleverly’s Denial of Derogatory Term for Stockton North

In the heat of Prime Minister’s Questions, Home Secretary James Cleverly found himself embroiled in controversy when Labour MP Alex Cunningham accused him of using an offensive term to describe Stockton North. The alleged incident occurred after Cunningham raised concerns about child poverty in his constituency. Cleverly’s spokesperson vehemently denied the accusation, stating that he neither used nor would use such language, expressing disappointment at the accusations.

The Question That Sparked the Controversy

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Cunningham confronted the Prime Minister with a poignant question: “Why are 34% of children in my constituency living in poverty?” This question set the stage for a series of events that would lead to a parliamentary uproar.

Cunningham’s Claim and Cleverly’s Denial

In a point of order later that day, Cunningham asserted that before the Prime Minister responded, Home Secretary Cleverly interjected with a derogatory term, calling Stockton North a “shithole.” Despite Cleverly’s denial and disappointment at the accusations, Cunningham stood firm, citing clear audio evidence that had been meticulously checked.

The Challenge for an Apology

Cunningham, having informed Cleverly’s office of his intention to name him, expressed frustration that the Home Secretary chose not to be present in the chamber to address the issue. He demanded an apology for what he deemed an “appalling insult and foul language” directed at his constituency in the North East.

Speaker’s Ambiguous Stance

Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing added an additional layer of complexity to the situation. She conveyed that Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle did not hear any such remark during the exchange. However, she acknowledged the challenging nature of discerning words in the tumult of Prime Minister’s Questions, refraining from making a definitive judgment.

Government’s Response and Political Fallout

Responding to the accusations, Rishi Sunak defended the government’s actions, emphasizing a substantial reduction in poverty across the country. This triggered a rebuttal from Cunningham, asserting the statement’s inaccuracy. Labour’s new candidate for Stockton North, Chris McDonald, condemned the alleged remarks, highlighting the broader implications for how the Tories perceive Teesside.


As the controversy surrounding James Cleverly’s alleged use of derogatory language unfolds, the political landscape becomes a battleground of conflicting narratives. The audio evidence stands at the center of this storm, challenging our ability to decipher truth in the midst of political clamor. Whether Cleverly will offer an apology or the allegations will fade into the parliamentary archives remains uncertain. In the fast-paced world of politics, where words carry weight and implications, only time will reveal the lasting impact of this heated exchange.


Q1: Is there concrete evidence of James Cleverly using a derogatory term?

A1: Labour MP Alex Cunningham claims to have clear audio evidence of James Cleverly using the term, but the controversy revolves around the difficulty of discerning words during the noisy atmosphere of Prime Minister’s Questions.

Q2: Has James Cleverly apologized for the alleged incident?

A2: As of now, James Cleverly has denied the allegations and expressed disappointment at being accused. Whether he will offer an apology remains uncertain.

Q3: What is the Speaker’s stance on the matter?

A3: Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing mentioned that Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle did not hear the alleged remark and refrained from making a definitive judgment.

Q4: How has the government responded to the allegations?

A4: Rishi Sunak, responding on behalf of the government, defended their actions, emphasizing a significant reduction in poverty across the country.

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