Jake Berry has said he regrets saying people could get better-paid jobs to cover their energy bills, branding his comments "a bit clumsy".
The Tory party chairman told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday morning: "People know that when their bills arrive, they can either cut their consumption or they can get [a] higher salary or higher wages, go out there and get that new job."
The comments prompted backlash on social media, and the MP's name was trending later on Sunday, with 37,000 tweets relating to his comments.
Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, branded Mr Berry's comments (which you can watch below) "out of touch" and said the Tory party chairman "thinks people consigned to low pay can simply magically upgrade to a higher wage job".
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 2, 2022
But speaking to Times Radio on Thursday, Mr Berry said: "I do think my language was a bit clumsy in that regard and I regret it.
"The point I was making ... is that the Government needs to go for growth to ensure that it can grow the economy and Britain can get a pay rise. You don't have to tell me how hard people graft in this economy. I know how hard people work."
He later also told ITV's Good Morning Britain (below) that he made his "very clumsy" point in a "terrible" way, and apologised if people had "misinterpreted" his remarks.
'I accept they were ever so clumsy and I'm sorry if people have misinterpreted it.'
Tory Party Chairman Jake Berry apologises after he suggested those struggling with bills should get a better-paid job. pic.twitter.com/vm6aNfvd6b
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) October 6, 2022
Mr Berry said a rise in both energy bills and mortgage rates would have been "unsustainable", and added: "It's very likely if you look at global trends that interest rates set by the independent Bank of England would have gone up over the coming months ahead in any event, so imagine if the Government hadn't have acted.
"Imagine if families were faced with a £6,000 energy bill that they couldn't afford and their mortgages going up. That would be completely unsustainable.
"Whilst the Bank of England is independent, the Prime Minister also made clear in her speech that her and the Chancellor would work with the Bank to try and ensure that the mortgage market remains stable while always ensuring that the governor maintains his independence."
Mr Berry also argued that growth is not "just some academic exercise".
"It's about ensuring that families can get a pay rise, can afford their bills. It's about enabling businesses to invest more to create new jobs, it's about creating Britain as a growing economy and an attractive place to invest," he said.
Tory party conference was 'positive'
The Tory party chairman said he hopes colleagues will listen to Liz Truss's message at conference and realise her "bold vision" for the country.
It follows a bruising few days in Birmingham for Ms Truss after just a month in the job, including a U-turn over a totemic tax policy and dissent within her Cabinet.
Asked if he is concerned about the current administration "driving the party over a cliff", Mr Berry told Times Radio: "If people listen to and look at what the Prime Minister said yesterday, I don't think she was talking just to people in the conference hall, she was talking to the country about her vision.
"I hope and believe that the country will listen to that, and I hope colleagues will listen to it and see that we do have a bold vision for our country to transform it to better the lives of families and people up and down this country."
Mr Berry said the Tory conference had been "positive".
The party chairman told LBC: "We had a good positive conference. I mean, it's my first one as chairman, so I can't reflect on being chairman at any other.
"But if you talk to delegates there, I think everyone had a good time, people were safe, people enjoyed the policy debates that we had."