Chopper’s Politics: Build a £1.5bn tunnel under Guildford to show you are levelling up the South, Boris Johnson told by Tory MP

Boris Johnson should build a £1.5billion tunnel under Guildford to show that he is levelling up the whole country, the local Conservative MP says today.

Angela Richardson said that it was only fair given that taxpayers in her Guildford constituency often saw their taxes distributed around the UK by the exchequer.

Speaking on today’s Chopper’s Politics podcast, which you can listen to on the audio player above, that the tunnel in one of the most prosperous parts of the country would show that Mr Johnson was focusing his plans on the whole country.

The call for a new tunnel under Guildford in Surrey could become a litmus test for the Prime Minister’s pledge in a speech yesterday that he would invest in infrastructure across the UK.

Local people have been calling for a tunnel since 2013 as a bypass would destroy areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Ms Richardson admitted the plans "sound expensive" but she added: "Unfortunately, a lot of the land around Guilford that isn’t urbanised is either an area of great landscape value or it’s a SSSI [Site of Special Scientific Interest] area and there is a lot of interest in preserving and protecting that. So the tunnel is probably the best idea, even though it’s the most expensive one."

She admitted that work might not start for a decade but she had started her campaign because "if I don’t ask now, we’re not going to have anything at all for the future".

Ms Richardson said: "A common issue that has been raised for years and years is the amount of money that is raised in the South east that goes into the Exchequer, that we then rightly see being distributed.

"But we’ve got to make sure that some of it comes back, because the economy in the south east really is the driver of the ability to be able to level up.

"And if we try to dampen down the fairness in the south east, we will actually make that process take longer.

"We’ve got to throw a few more coals onto that fire, get it absolutely humming so that as we recover from the pandemic, the recovery takes place everywhere."

The Prime Minister promised to look at her plans when she raised them in the House of Commons earlier this week.

Also on the podcast US pollster Frank Luntz urged businesses to stay out of the culture wars and "divisive social issues".

He said: "I actually want the corporate leaders to stay out of it, as do the British people.

"In our polling, getting involved in social issues is the single lowest, lowest priority. They want the consumers to be treated well. They want the employees respected and paid fairly. They want their communities to be celebrated.

"And the lowest priority of them all, when we gave them 10, 12 choices is being involved in social issues.

"The business community in this country should focus on what matters to their people, however you define it.

"And what doesn’t matter to their people are all these divisive social issues."  

He warned that unless there was stronger action on woke issues Britain would get "a Donald Trump in this country who literally, by his tweets, now his emails, and his statements are destroying the credibility of democracy as we know it every single day".

Listen to Frank Luntz, Angela Richardson and Labour MP Stephen Kinnock on this week’s Chopper’s Politics, The Telegraph’s weekly political podcast using the audio player above, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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