RISHI Sunak has doubled down on a boast he made about cutting funding for poor areas to send money to wealthy parts of southern England which was uncovered during his failed leadership bid earlier this year.

The new Prime Minister was grilled over a speech he gave in the wealthy Kent town of Royal Tunbridge Wells, in which he hailed diverting cash from “deprived urban areas”.

Sunak – who officially took over from the disastrous Liz Truss on Tuesday – said he had been “telling the truth for the good of the country” when he made the comments about boosting state investment in areas like Tunbridge Wells, which were caught on camera in a video leaked to the New Statesman.

Labour leader Keir Starmer took the Prime Minister to task over the comments accusing Sunak of pretending to be “on the side of working people”.

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He added: “Over the summer, he was secretly recorded at a garden party in Tunbridge Wells, boasting to a group of Tory members that he personally moved money away from deprived areas to wealthy places instead.

“Rather than apologise or pretend that he meant something else, why doesn’t he now do the right thing and undo the changes that he made to those funding formulas?”

As chancellor in Boris Johnson’s government, Sunak presided over massive funding increases to wealthy areas over poorer places, according to analysis by The Guardian.

Sunak refused to back down on the remarks and criticised Starmer’s pledges he made to Labour members before his election as party leader.

He said: “I know [Starmer] rarely leaves north London, but if he does, he will know that there are deprived areas in our rural communities, in our coastal communities and across the south. And this government will relentlessly support them because we are a government that will support people across the United Kingdom.”

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Sunak added: “This summer, I was talking, I was being honest about the difficulties that we were facing. But when he ran for leader, he promised his party he would borrow billions and billions of pounds.

“I told the truth for the good of the country, he told his party what it wanted to hear. Leadership is not selling fairytales, it is confronting challenges and that is the leadership the British people will get from this government.”

The Prime Minister was criticised from those in his own ranks at the time the remarks were revealed, with former Tory party chairman Jake Berry saying Sunak “claims he wants to level up the north, but here, he boasts about trying to funnel vital investment away from deprived areas”.