Norfolk MP George Freeman has been mocked by Sir Keir Starmer who highlighted his claim not to be able to pay his mortgage on a ministerial salary of almost £120,000.

The Labour leader raised the issue at Prime Minister's Questions, in the House of Commons, when he referred to people's struggles to afford housing.

Eastern Daily Press: Sir Keir StarmerSir Keir Starmer (Image: Press Association)

Sir Keir started by saying: “This week I met one of the employees at Iceland in Warrington, Phil.”

After being interrupted by heckling during his question, Sir Keir added: “Laughing at an employee at Iceland who’s struggling with his mortgage, shame.

“He told me that his mortgage is going up by a staggering £1,000 a month, prime minister. He doesn’t want other averages, other people, other stories, that’s what’s happening to him.

“If the member for Mid-Norfolk (George Freeman) on a £120,000 can’t afford this Tory government, how on earth can people like Phil?”

The jibe was a reference to remarks from Mr Freeman who made national headlines earlier this week when he revealed part of the reason for quitting as science minister in November was that he could not afford to pay his rising mortgage on a ministerial salary.

Having left the government, he is now about to increase his outside earnings.

Eastern Daily Press: Prime minister RIshi SunakPrime minister RIshi Sunak

Prime minister Rishi Sunak replied to Sir Keir: “Thanks to this government, Phil and millions of other workers, not just at Iceland but across the country, are benefitting this month in their pay packet for a tax cut worth £100s for someone on an average salary."

Eastern Daily Press: Mid Norfolk MP George FreemanMid Norfolk MP George Freeman (Image: Archant 2018)

Mr Freeman, who has been the Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk since 2010, addressed his resignation in a Substack blog post last week, entitled: "Why did I stand down?"

He wrote: "I was so exhausted, bust and depressed that I was starting to lose the irrepressible spirit of optimism, endeavour, teamwork and progress which are the fundamentals of human achievement.

"And because my mortgage rises this month from £800pcm to £2,000, which I simply couldn’t afford to pay on a ministerial salary.

"We're in danger of making politics something only hedge fund donors, young spin doctors and failed trade unionists can afford to do."

Mr Freeman would have been receiving an annual salary of around £118,300.

Now he is not a minister, on top of his MP’s salary of £86,584, he is free to take on lucrative second jobs, subject to approval by anti-corruption watchdog the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

Many homeowners are facing steep monthly mortgage hikes as they come off fixed-rate deals.

Mr Freeman, who had said he expects Labour will win the next election, made further headlines this week when a letter supporting him for a knighthood was forwarded to more than 100 Conservative colleagues.

The letter was reportedly sent by a member of his staff in error.