'They need to up their game' - County council leader takes aim at Norfolk's MPs in scathing interview
PUBLISHED: 14:03 15 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:24 16 March 2018
The leader of Norfolk County Council has attacked the region’s MPS, saying they need to “up their game” and “work a lot harder” - even claiming to have only met his own party chairman - Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis - once and to have never met Norwich MP Clive Lewis.
In an interview with BBC presenter and EDP columnist Nick Conrad, Cliff Jordan, leader of the Conservative-led council aired his views on every serving MP in the county, with particularly harsh words for his own party chairman - Great Yarmouth MP Mr Lewis, fellow Conservative South West Norfolk MP and chief secretary to the treasury Elizabeth Truss and Norwich South MP Mr Lewis.
Discussing the suggestion of a disconnect between the county and Westminster, Mr Jordan said he felt the relationship between the county council and MPs needed work.
He said: “Our MPs need to back us a lot harder than they have been doing. I do not get a lot of support from them.
“Our MPs cost us a lot of money and they need to earn their corn. I think they have been knocking Norfolk for too long and I am fed up of listening to them.”
Mr Jordan was complimentary of George Freeman, who he described as “brilliant” and had kind words for Keith Simpson and Henry Bellingham, however, others came under fire.
He said: “I have only met Brandon Lewis once in my life. Liz Truss is all right, but she knocks Norfolk too much, she runs Norfolk down too much. “I have never met Clive Lewis. He has never been anywhere near the county (council) at all. He is not interested.
“I invite MPs to the county hall on a regular basis and the people that usually come are Keith Simpson and Richard Bacon.
“I am hacked off because I am working really hard to bring Norfolk up. Somebody has got to tell them [the MPs]: up their game. You are not good enough.”
He said he got support from one or two, but the others were “also rans”, accusing North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb of criticising “incessantly”.
Norwich South MP Mr Lewis hit back at claims he was not interested in the county, listing a series of occasions when he had visited County Hall.
And he said: “Cliff says it’s his concern for Norfolk that’s motivated this latest outburst. But as ever actions speak louder than even Cliff’s latest high volume broadside.
“He is the Tory leader of a Tory-run County Council that is rolling over to make excruciating cuts demanded by his own Tory party to the vital services the people of Norfolk rely on.”
Mr Lewis also criticised Mr Jordan for the majority of his Conservative group’s decision to award themselves an allowance increase, despite an independent panel saying it should not be increased this year.
He said: “Cliff got it completely wrong about me but he might have a point about “might as well not be there” Norfolk Tory MPs.
“We’ve got ministers in the Tory government here in Norfolk. So he’s quite right to wonder what’s the point of them if all they do is rubber stamp Tory national decisions which continually hammer the people of our county.”
In response to Mr Jordan’s claims that she is difficult to contact, Norwich North Conservative MP Ms Smith said: “My constituents are always able to contact me on 01603 414756 or via email. I work regularly with the county council on a range of issues affecting my constituents.”