A senior Tory MP has insisted that he was not intending to tell Londoners to "bugger off to Manchester" if they could not afford a house in the capital, but was trying to offer a "thoughtful" suggestion.
The controversy broke out after Croydon South MP Sir Richard Ottaway told the BBC's Sunday Politics that a solution to the "skyrocketing" property prices in London could be to get "people on the trains" to move to cheaper areas in the north of England.
“There are plenty of places outside of London where houses are much cheaper, much more affordable," he said.
Referring to Chancellor George Osborne's proposed "Northern hub" linked by high speed rail, Ottaway went on: “I mean, we were talking … about the northern hub, houses up there are really quite reasonably priced and that is perhaps what we should be doing, is getting people on the trains and up to Manchester.”
Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central, Sarah Jones, branded the Tory MP's remarks "out of touch", telling the Croydon Advertiser: “To suggest that people move 200 miles from their homes, jobs, friends and family is a real kick in the teeth."
In response to the criticism, Ottaway said: “It certainly wasn’t a bugger off to Manchester statement. It was a thoughtful response to this economic situation.
"If we can persuade people from migrating into London and get them to move to a northern hub instead, it will reduce demand.
“We’ve [the coalition government] built 70,000 affordable homes in London since 2010 and we’ve built more council houses than the last Labour government.”