CONSERVATIVE party chairman Grant Shapps has said he stands by his controversial tweet about Wednesday’s budget as he was given a tour around Watson Steel Structures in Lostock — despite the backlash it prompted on social media.

Mr Shapps is under fire after tweeting a "patronising" poster relating to the cut in bingo tax and beer duty to “help hard working people do more of the things they enjoy”.

He said: “Let’s be absolutely clear. Labour has absolutely nothing constructive to say about the long term economic future of this country, so what do they do?

“Go on about a tweet. Actually, if you happen to be someone who is employed in the bingo industry, to know that the tax is going to be halved and there is a future for your industry it means a real job for you and security for your family.

“Three quarters of all our bingo halls have closed down and at the heart of the community, people enjoy using them and we have just halved the tax of bingo in this country.

“That’s really important, it’s important for the communities all over the country.

“And I make no apology for a budget which takes a penny off beer. It is a good budget and it helps everyone.”


Mr Shapps was at Watsons with the prospective Tory MP for Bolton West, Chris Green, in light of George Osborne’s announcement that the government will be reducing the energy bill for big energy users.

The company has helped build a number of high profile structures, such as The Reebok stadium and the Olympics sculpture The Orbit.

He went on to say that the chancellor’s budget was a good budget for places like Bolton.

He said: “Watsons is a fantastic local employer — 250 guys work here and this is a company that is going to benefit directly from yesterday’s budget.

"One of the things the chancellor announced is sorting out the cost of energy for big energy users like a steel company like this.

“A lot of power used and of course very expensive electricity bills and we have driven all the business overseas.

"The chancellor yesterday announced something very significant for this business, and it is going to cut the cost of electricity or keep it down and keep the business here producing things for the whole country right here from Bolton.”

Mr Green added: “It’s really important to highlight the big local businesses and the manufacturing that is going on here in Bolton.

"People don’t realise that we are still a very strong country when it comes to manufacturing and what they do at Watson Steel is cutting edge — it is world leading.

“The more that we can promote this and highlight it the more business they will get and the better we will do as a country.”