An MP has described her constituency as a magnet for the jobless and drug users.

Amber Rudd, the Conservative MP for Hastings, told the Financial Times that people who are on benefits and want to be by the seaside move to Hastings to have easier access to friends, drugs and drink.

She said that she decided that she wanted to stand as MP for the marginal constituency because it was within two hours of London and she could see her party was going to win it.

Yesterday (April 30) she told The Argus she stood by the remarks.

She said: “I am not embarrassed by those remarks. I do not think I have made a gaffe.

“I have always been very clear with my constituents that I have responsibilities to my family in London. Being an MP is not a nine-to-five job and I want to able to fulfil my family commitments.

“I am incredibly optimistic about Hastings.

“I described the well-known problems that Hastings has to the Financial Times but I also talked about the incredible investment in the town, the fact that unemployment is going down and that there are many positive things to say about it.

“It’s not the people who live and work in Hastings who take drugs, it’s the visitors. But I did not write the article in the FT.

“It was the journalist’s piece and she selected the quotes.

Political capital

“My political opponents have tried to make capital out of this but I think opinions on that interview are divided along party lines.”

Sarah Owen, the Labour Party’s candidate for Hastings and Rye said: “You don’t have to be from Hastings to love the place – it just so happens I was born and grew up here.

“So when I hear the MP talk down my hometown and the people who live here, I question what commitment they have to stand up for us.

“It’s also really disappointing given the timing for our City of Culture bid. We need an ambassador for Hastings and Rye not someone who rubbishes a place that has so much to going for it.”

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