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May accused of ‘bribing MPs’ with £1.6bn post-Brexit fund for deprived towns

Theresa May is being accused of “bribing MPs” in “a desperate measure to buy votes” as she launches a £1.6bn fund for pro-Brexit towns.

The new “Stronger Towns Fund”, with cash handouts for constituencies that voted Leave, is being unveiled just days before MPs are due to vote again on the prime minister’s deal.

The government claims it will boost growth and give communities a greater say in their future after Brexit and will be targeted at less prosperous parts of the country.

But opponents claim the handouts are aimed at persuading Labour MPs representing constituencies that voted Leave in the EU referendum to vote for the PM’s deal next week.

According to ministers, the fund will be used to create new jobs, help train local people and boost economic activity – with communities having a say on how the money is spent.

But the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said: “This towns fund smacks of desperation from a government reduced to bribing MPs to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation.

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