A leaked recording has allegedly caught the leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge, admitting he secured a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ from ministers to call off a referendum.
Cllr Hodge had strenuously denied there was no deal but it is now known that he told his own councillors that he had received ‘assurances in writing’ and had direct dealings with communities secretary Sajid Javid.
In the 20-minute recording, Cllr Hodge is heard to say: ‘There may come a time, if what I call a gentleman’s agreement, as the Conservative Party often does, is not honoured, we will have to revisit this in nine months or a year’s time.
‘If we do, let me assure you, you’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming not to go for a referendum next year.’
Lib Dem shadow health secretary, Norman Lamb, said: ‘The Government has shamelessly lied to Parliament and to the British people in denying that any special agreement was made with Surrey County Council.
‘The prime minister now has serious questions to answer after she stood at the despatch box and called suggestions of a sweetheart deal alternative facts.
‘We cannot accept a cosy, secret agreement between Tory ministers and Tory councils while other parts of the country get a raw deal.’