Tory Mayor Lord Houchen hits out at Suella Braverman's 'cack-handed' LGBT+ comments

Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Lord Houchen has hit out at Suella Braverman's "cack-handed" comments around the Progress Pride flag, calling it "cheap politics".

The former home secretary, who is heavily rumoured to be running for the Tory leadership, attacked the LGBT+ symbol during a speech at the National Conservatism conference in Washington DC on Monday.

She said the government's decision to fly the flag on its buildings represented "one monstrous thing - that I was a member of a government that presided over the mutilation of children in our hospitals and from our schools".

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Ms Braverman also said it was part of "a horrible political campaign", adding she was "physically repulsed" the Conservatives claimed they "were doing something about trans fanatics when, in fact, what we did was let it happen".

Asked about the comments by Sky News, Lord Houchen - who is the party's last remaining metro mayor after May's local elections - said her remarks did not have "any room within the Conservative leadership contest".

While he accepted there were "genuine and valid conversations and debates around policy on trans rights [and] on women's only spaces" to be had, he claimed Ms Braverman did "a very cack-handed thing of trying to convolute some very sensitive issues around gay rights as well, and pride, which she convoluted with all the policy issues".

Considered by many as the poster boy for the party's successes in traditionally Labour-run areas, Lord Houchen added: "Fundamentally, she got it completely wrong.

"I think she's misjudged certainly the mood of the country, but I actually think she's very much misjudged the mood of the Conservative Party.

"And I don't think, and I say it hopefully and in expectation, that there is a willingness and a want for the Conservative Party to get into that kind of cheap politics.

"Because if that's where it's at, then our road to redemption could be as long or as short as we choose to make it, and that would lead us into opposition for many, many years."