"A Tory MP has ignited a row after claiming northerners die earlier than those in the south because they smoke too much, drink too much - and 'jump into bed with each other at the drop of a hat'.
Public health minister Anne Milton - whose Guildford constituency lies in the Surrey stockbroker belt - argued that 'widespread changes in behaviour' such as stopping smoking and practising 'safe sex' would help lower death rates in the north of England.
Her comments came after the British Heart Foundation released new statistics revealing people living in the north-east are more likely to die of heart disease than their southern counterparts.
At a Commons debate last week about bad health in the region, former nurse Ms Milton said: 'The major part of poor health will be remedied only by widespread changes in behaviour.
Professor Stephen Singleton, medical director at NHS North of England, said that over the past decade the number of people dying from heart disease in the north-east has reduced faster than anywhere else in the country due to the reduction in the number of people smoking and better care for people who have heart attacks.
Labour's Chi Onwurah said Ms Milton's arrogant comments ignored the fact that poor health is often associated with poverty.
What she said is broadly true but she would have been less open to criticism if she had prefaced her remarks with "In general" or some such. Many Northerners do behave wisely.
WHO she was also made her remarks offensive. England has all sorts of social divisions that are taken very seriously and one of them is the North/South divide, with the North being poorer and Southerners looking down on them. She is from "South of Watford". People from the Home Counties (around London) tend to see "North of Watford" as another country, populated by less civilized people. Watford is a railway junction at the Northern end of the Home Counties.
English migrants to Australia are mostly from outside the Home Counties. They like being in a place where they are not looked down upon. And people from the Home Counties tend not to migrate because nothing could replace London. New Yorkers tend to feel the same about NYC.