Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has labelled Andy Burnham the “miserabilist mayor … who doesn’t want opportunities” for people in Manchester.
Ms Truss targeted the Mayor of Greater Manchester in her speech at Friday’s Tory hustings in the city.
She told an audience of Tory party members: “What I want to see is a successful North of England where everybody has opportunities and we link up the great cities of the North, from Liverpool to Manchester to Leeds and beyond, also, of course, Bradford.
“That’s why I want to build Northern Powerhouse Rail.
“And I want those opportunities to be powered by enterprise and business unleashing investment right across the country.
“I want us to make the M62 the superhighway to success.
“But let’s be honest, in this city there is a dark pall. There is the miserabilist mayor, Andy Burnham.
“He doesn’t want cars to come into the city. He doesn’t want people to be able to get on the train to get into work. He’d rather back the militant trade unions.
“He doesn’t want opportunities for people in this city and he has to be defeated.”
Fellow candidate Rishi Sunak also criticised Mr Burnham during his speech at the Manchester Central Convention Complex.
He said trust must be restored to “build a better Britain” and “it starts with honesty”.
He added: “We need to restore trust of communities right here by calling out the failures of the Labour mayor, Andy Burnham, because it simply isn’t good enough.
“I mean, just look at the record – a police force (Greater Manchester Police) that was put into special measures, the highest rates of knife crime almost across the UK.
“Now I will make sure that the police have the powers to do their job and whether it’s stop and search … I will never let political correctness stand in the way of keeping us safe.
“And we saw him again today – a day of strikes, of Avanti cancelling trains. And whilst the Conservative Party was sticking up for hard-working families, the Labour party and Andy Burnham were on the side of the unions and the British people deserve better.”