England

David Cameron's Yorkshire 'hate' joke caught on mic

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Media captionDavid Cameron's comments were picked up on a microphone

Prime Minister David Cameron has been heard saying Yorkshire people "hate each other", while rehearsing a speech.

Wearing a microphone but not on camera, he was thought to be rehearsing an answer to a question on devolution and the number of bids from the county.

Ahead of a speech in Leeds, he said: "We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn't realise they hated each other so much."

Later, Mr Cameron told the BBC's Test Match Special it was "a total joke".

'Absolved'

The prime minister was in Leeds making a speech on the economy.

He was heard speaking to an unidentified male off-stage about the region's devolution proposals.

Mr Cameron was wearing a television microphone when he made the comments but was not aware he was being recorded.

Later he went to Headingley to watch the one-day international between England and Australia.

He told Test Match Special his comments stemmed from the high number of devolution bids entered from across the region.

"I said to an aide that I thought Yorkshiremen had it in for other people rather than each other, clearly as a joke," he said.

Mr Cameron sat with two Yorkshire cricketing legends to watch the match.

The prime minister said: "I've been absolved by two of the greatest living Yorkshiremen; Geoffrey [Boycott] and Dickie Bird both agreed it was a joke."

'Some truth'

West Yorkshire Combined Authority leader, Peter Box, who is involved in the devolution bid from the Leeds City Region, said the prime minister's comments were "amusing".

He added: "There's some truth in it.

"We're quite tribal, we're competitive within Yorkshire, let alone with the rest of the country."

Councillor Judith Blake, Labour leader of Leeds City Council, criticised the prime minister and described Yorkshire people as "the friendliest in the world".

"If Mr Cameron visited Leeds more often, rather than for the occasional political stunt, he'd soon get to know that," she added.