HOME Secretary James Cleverly has apologised for using “unparliamentary language” after he was accused of calling an English town a "sh**hole"

It came during Prime Minister's Questions when Rishi Sunak was asked about high child poverty levels in Stockton-on-Tees.

However, a "source close to the Home Secretary" claimed that Cleverly had in fact been attacking Labour MP Alex Cunningham, calling him a "sh**".

Cleverly had initially denied making any comment, with a spokesperson saying: "He did not say that, and would not. He’s disappointed people would accuse him of doing so."

But his denials were ignored by Cunningham, who told parliament: “He was seen and heard to say ‘because it’s a s***hole’. I know he is denying being the culprit, but the audio is clear and has been checked, and checked, and checked again.”

@scotnational Did James Cleverly just call an English town a ‘sh**hole’ at PMQs? 😬 #ukpolitics #pmqs #jamescleverly #tories #westminster ♬ original sound - The National

Cleverly's denial was also ignored by Ben Houchen, a high-profile Tory mayor and peer who was born in Stockton.

Houchen said he was "not interested in excuses" and called on the Home Secretary to apologise for "dragging Stockton’s name through the mud".

On Thursday, a "source close to" Cleverly apologised, but insisted he had not called the town a "sh**hole".

They said: “James made a comment. He called Alex Cunningham a shit MP. He apologises for unparliamentary language.

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“As was made clear yesterday, he would never criticise Stockton. He’s campaigned in Stockton and is clear that it is a great place.”

The issue had been raised in the Commons on Thursday, with Labour calling for an apology from Cleverly.

Shadow Commons leader Lucy Powell said: “Besmirching another honourable member’s constituency goes against all the courtesies of this place and it is utterly disrespectful to their constituents.”

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt replied: “With regard to the charge she makes against the Home Secretary, he denies it and I believe him.”