Tory minister apologises for calling Birmingham and Blackpool 'godawful'

ITV News Central spoke to people in Birmingham and asked them what they love about the city

A UK government minister has apologised after describing Birmingham and Blackpool as "godawful".

Heather Wheeler, the Conservative MP for South Derbyshire, appeared to denigrate the host city of the 2022 Commonwealth Games and one of the country’s best-known seaside resorts during a launch of the government’s new digital strategy on Thursday.

The junior minister in the Cabinet Office said: "I was just at a conference in Blackpool or Birmingham or somewhere godawful," according to Chris Middleton, a technology journalist who was at the launch.

He then said that a Cabinet Office official rang him after he first reported Wheeler’s comments saying it was a joke to break the ice.

Ms Wheeler had been speaking at an event in London to launch the government’s new digital strategy, the 2022 to 2025 roadmap to a digital future.

Apologising on Friday, Ms Wheeler tweeted: "Whilst speaking at a conference on Thursday, I made an inappropriate remark that does not reflect my actual view.

"I apologise for any offence caused."

Asked for comment, the Cabinet Office pointed back to Ms Wheeler’s apology.

The minister has since received backlash for her comments on social media, including from the MP for Birmingham Yardley, Jess Phillips.

The Labour MP tweeted a picture on Saturday morning, saying "Good Morning from God Awful Birmingham."

Ms Phillips also tweeted: "On Heather Wheeler saying Birmingham was godawful, I am not mortally offended, I am used to people thinking this stuff and being wrong and also people make off the cuff remarks regrettably all the time, we've all done it.

"It's the implied snobbery that's the problem.

"There are bits of the country that are less beautiful or offer something different than rolling hills or hipster paradise (incidentally we have both in Birmingham and much else besides) it's ok not to like everywhere.

"It's not ok to look down on them in a sneering way."

Ms Wheeler's remarks comes as Birmingham prepares to host the Commonwealth Games this summer.

The Queen's baton relay will finish its tour of the Commonwealth by spending two days travelling around the host city of Birmingham, before appearing at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on Thursday, July 28.

A detailed schedule has been published of where you can catch a glimpse as it makes its way through the city.

The baton will have visited in total 180 towns, cities and villages across England - after previously travelling thousands of miles across the world.