The gap between the north and the south of England in areas such as health, education and poverty has “improved” but still exists, former deputy prime minister John Prescott claimed today.

Mr Prescott, Labour MP for Hull East and deputy prime minister for 10 years, said his baby granddaughter could expect to live three or four years more because she was born in the south rather than the north.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast with his wife Pauline to publicise their BBC Two documentary Prescott: The North South Divide, to be broadcast tonight, he said he was proud of his image as a “chippy”


”Why? Because I don’t like the difference between the north and the south, whether it is health, education, whether it is in the wealth, whether it is in the poverty, that is still there, that is what we discover, obviously, it is still there,” he said.

”But one interesting fact, namely, that it has improved, but the gap has remained, so it improved in the south, it improved in the north and there is still a gap.

”We have got a little granddaughter now, she was born in the south, she is going to live three of four years more, simply because she is born in the south than in the north.”

In his BBC Breakfast interview, Mr Prescott said northerners hated being “picked on” and looked down upon by southerners.

Asked about their visit to Liverpool as part of the programme, Mr Prescott remarked on the effects of regeneration on the city.

Mrs Prescott added: “The city has changed, but the people haven’t, they are still as warm and friendly as ever.”

Mr Prescott admitted speaking a “lot faster” now than in the 1960s, referring to a television interview he gave in 1966 during the seamen’s strike when you “spoke more slowly”, he said.

”Since then, of course, I speak a lot faster to stop buggers getting in on me basically,” he said.

:: Prescott: The North South Divide, 9pm, BBC Two.

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