SENIOR East Lancashire MP Jake Berry has announced who he is backing to become the next Tory leader and Prime Minister.

The former Northern Powerhouse minister announced his support for chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, on Twitter this morning.

The Rossendale and Darwen MP posted: "A clean start - a new deal - It’s time to back Tom Tugendhat.

"We asked voters who had never voted Conservative to lend us their votes.

"With Tom Tugendhat I believe they will do so again in two years time."

Mr Tugendhat, aged 49, is one of 11 contenders so far seeking to succeed Boris Johnson in the top job in British politics, and is MP for Tonbridge and Malling in Kent.

Lancashire Telegraph: Tom TugendhatTom Tugendhat

Mr Berry, first elected in 2010 who chairs the Northern Research Group of Conservative MPs, said: "A Conservative manifesto promised a 'levelling up agenda' and voters flocked to the idea that people and communities left behind by Labour, would get the chance to catch up, to compete on an even keel, to prosper and to grow.

"We were asking people who’d never considered voting Conservative, to do so on a promise of change. If that commitment was bold, then people’s response to it was brave.

"In 40 years, there’ve been 40 different government initiatives to stimulate local growth. We need grass-roots change, but Whitehall produces AstroTurf.

"Last month at the Northern Research Group Conference in Doncaster, Northern MPs set out our New Deal for Britain.

"First, equalise Government spending around the UK.

"How can we expect the North to stand on its own feet when we’ve spent a staggering £6.5 billion more on Transport in London than the North every year for a decade?

"Second, ditch Blair’s education policy that committed a generation to university. It failed our young people and left the UK at the bottom of the G7 when it comes to productivity.

"We need a vocational corridor – it’s time for Vox Bridge.

"Thirdly a devolution revolution, with local areas free to lower taxes, including corporation tax on a sectoral basis.

"Areas can compete to lower taxes enabling Sunderland to become more competitive than Singapore and Leeds to compete with Luxembourg.

"These changes offer the radical action our voters demanded when they sent Red Wall MPs to London with an 80-seat Conservative majority.

"Only one candidate in this Prime Ministerial race - Mr Tugendhat - took the time to come to that Conference on the day, to listen to the 400 party members present and see the potential in what we had to say."

Tom Tugendhat has been an MP since 2015, having previously worked as a journalist, PR consultant, and touring Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in the Territorial Army for 10 years.

He is the son of Sir Michael Tugendhat, a High Court judge, and a nephew of Lord Tugendhat, a businessman, former EU Vice President and Conservative Party politician.