Throwaway comment or ill-advised tweet? MP creates a storm with Bury St Edmunds mention
PUBLISHED: 12:46 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:58 31 May 2019
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A Labour MP in Birmingham has caused a Twitter storm by saying the Tory leadership race will drag the country back to “the standards of a masonic lodge in Bury St Edmunds”.
MP for Yardley, Jess Phillips, who has never been to the Suffolk market town, has received backlash on social media for the seemingly "throwaway" comment.
Her tweet reads: "Is there anything worse than a beauty parade of politicians saying stupid stuff To appeal to 100,000 ageing right-wingers. In the process of this leadership race the country will be dragged back to the standards of a masonic lodge in Bury St Edmunds."
The comment has attracted more than 3,000 replies and more than 12,000 'likes'.
READ MORE: Suffolk Tories expect to see leadership election field shrink next week
She later Tweeted she was "sure that Bury St Edmunds is a fine place with fine people".
Former Bury St Edmunds councillor Sarah Stamp said: "I think it's a bit of an ill-advised tweet. I think MPs should know better than to make generalised comments and sweeping statements firstly about organisations like the Freemasons that do a lot of good and also for our town.
"It's a beautiful town, everybody loves it. I thought it was just a bit of a petty comment that was beneath an MP."
Mrs Stamp, who is a member of the Conservative Party, said Ms Phillips had taken a view of middle England and used Bury to represent it.
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"If someone chose to make a statement about Birmingham, how would she react?" she added.
She also took issue with Ms Phillips' reference to "100,000 ageing right-wingers", saying "we are all ageing".
Bury St Edmunds councillor Ann Williamson, who represents the Southgate ward on the district and town council, said she took it as a "bit of a throwaway comment".
The Conservative councillor added: "I just think it's a harmless comment. She's done a good service for Bury St Edmunds. She's advertised it."
In a tongue-in-cheek invitation, she has suggested Ms Phillips come to the town and sit with her side by side on one of the rickshaws.
Mrs Stamp also offered to show her the area.
Darren Turner, a Labour councillor for Out Westgate on Bury St Edmunds Town Council, replied to Ms Phillips on Twitter: "As chair of the bury st Edmunds Labour Party branch I hope your not attacking our town?"
Ms Phillips also tweeted "In a weird twist, I'm now promoting Bury St Edmunds which I rigorously endorse regardless of no experience apart from a night out with the MP while away at the UN which lead to her forever becoming a woman of intriguing mystery to me."
There are now 12 MPs vying for the Conservative leadership, including West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, the health secretary.
No-one was available from the Masonic Hall in Bury St Edmunds to comment.