David Cameron receives 'absolution' for Yorkshire comments
'We thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn't realise they hated each other'
David Cameron says he has received "absolution" from "two of the greatest living Yorkshiremen" after being caught joking about people from the county all hating one another.
Th e Prime Minister was recorded making the unguarded comment while discussing rival devolution bids from within Yorkshire while v isiting the city to make a speech on reform of public services.
During the conversation with an unnamed man, Mr Cameron told him: "We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn't realise they hated each other so much," according to the BBC.
Mr Cameron was swiftly criticised on Twitter with users calling him "arrogant" and "toffee-nosed".
But he said that cricketer Geoffrey Boycott and umpire Dickie Bird had both recognised it as "a joke" and believed most people would feel the same.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Test Match Special during a visit to Headingley to see England's cricket team take on Australia in a one-day international, Mr Cameron said: "I was picked up saying something that was not meant to be broadcast, but it was a joke.
"One of my aides had said to me that there were five or six different bids from Yorkshire for devolution, different ideas from different parts of Yorkshire. I joked, saying that I thought Yorkshiremen had it in for everyone else but not for each other - or words to that effect.
"It was a total joke but it's been picked up and I suspect I will be getting a bit of gyp for this.
"But I've been absolved by two of the greatest living Yorkshiremen. I repeated what I said to Geoffrey Boycott and Dickie Bird and they said 'It's a joke, that's absolutely fine', so I think absolution from those two Yorkshiremen - I hope that will be enough to see me through.
"I think people have a sense of humour and they can tell when you're telling a joke, even if it's not a particularly good one."
Mr Cameron later joked that his gaffe would probably be given a "-gate" suffix "to give it the full title".
Mr Cameron was wearing a microphone during the conversation but was not on camera.
The comment prompted a flurry of reaction on social media.
Catherine Jones tweeted: "Cameron thinks Yorkshire people hate everyone probably because everyone in Yorkshire hates him."
Another tweeter, Luke, from Wakefield, wrote: "Us Yorkshire folk don't hate everyone Mr Cameron......Just you."
But Liam Ronan, who described himself as a Sheffielder in Leytonstone, east London, backed the Prime Minister, writing: "He makes a fair enough point to be honest!"
And Councillor Peter Box, who is involved in the Leeds City Region devolution bid as leader of Wakefield Council and chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said Mr Cameron's comment was "quite amusing".
"There is rivalry between Yorkshire. There's always been rivalry," said Cllr Box.
"The reason I found it quite amusing is there's some truth in it. We're quite tribal, we're competitive within Yorkshire, let alone with the rest of the country."
Yorkshireman Sir Bernard Ingham, who was Margaret Thatcher's press secretary, congratulated Mr Cameron on his "perspicacity" in drawing attention to the intransigence of Yorkshire folk.
Sir Bernard said that a Polish minister once complained to him about the problems of running Poland. Sir Bernard retorted: "Poland? You should try running Yorkshire County Cricket Club."