AN MP has called for a chief executive to be removed from her position on a special council set up to aid Britain’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Farron described Emma Walmsley’s position on the Build Back Better Council - as well as her receipt of a damehood last year - as a ‘kick in the teeth’ for communities in South Lakeland.

The council has brought together business bosses from across Britain to ‘unlock investment’ and ‘boost job creation’ as the nation looks to rebuild in the wake of Covid-19.

Earlier this month, GSK, of which Barrow-born Dame Emma is chief executive, announced it planned to wind up its operations at Ulverston in four years’ time.

The move would leave around 130 members of staff facing redundancy.

Mr Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: “If the prime minister wants his claim that he is ‘levelling-up’ the North to be taken seriously, then he must remove Dame Emma Walmsley from the Build Back Better business council.”

He was echoing the sentiments of peer and former Barrow and Furness MP Lord Walney, who asked that consideration be given to revoking Dame Emma’s council role in the House of Lords on Thursday.

Responding to his request, Baroness Penn, speaking on behalf of the Government, said: “Whilst I have sympathy for the reasons the noble lord may have asked that question, the Government does not intend to change the membership of the business council.

“It runs for 12 months and we welcome the contributions of all members.”

Ulverston councillor Andrew Butcher, who worked at GSK for 27 years, also expressed concerns about GSK’s planned departure, saying: “It trained a lot of apprentices.

"It gave them a stepping stone in life, a foot on the ladder.

“Let’s be honest, the apprenticeships are the lifeblood of the future.”

Cllr Butcher said: “I hope they are going to leave a good legacy for Ulverston, because Glaxo has always helped in Ulverston in the past, they’ve always worked together with the town, and people have worked together with them.

“I hope we will have a good relationship with whoever comes to the site.”

A spokesman for GSK said: “Our announcement to sell our cephalosporins business is the start of a process that we expect to last four years.

“There is no immediate change for our employees in Ulverston as the site continues to be GSK-operated for some years.

“GSK has a long history of community support in Ulverston and we have committed to provide further support to the community.”