A HAMPSHIRE MP is taking the leader of Liverpool City Council to task in the ongoing Cruise Warsrow, accusing the Merseysiders of “behind-the-scenes deals”.

Julian Lewis seized upon comments made in the Daily Echo by Liverpool council leader Joe Anderson, who suggested a deal to expand his city’s cruise operation had already been agreed.

Cllr Anderson also threatened to sue the Government for “reneging”

on what he claimed had been agreed.

New Forest East MP Dr Lewis raised the matter in Parliament, asking Transport Minister Mike Penning whether he was aware of the interview.

Mr Penning said: “I am aware of such comments being reported.”

He insisted the outcome of the consultation into Liverpool’s proposals had not yet been determined, promising a decision would be reached “soon”.

It is understood that early in 2012 is the most likely time for an announcement.

Southampton’s political and business leaders, and cruise terminal bosses are demanding Liverpool repays the £21m public handout it received from the Government and European Union to build its cruise terminal before a state aid restriction on its operation is lifted.

Liverpool has offered to pay back just £5m and ministers are considering its proposals after a consultation ended in September.

Dr Lewis launched a furious attack on the Merseysiders’ tactics, saying: “I do not like the way in which people in Liverpool are apparently relying on behind-the-scenes deals, whether it be deals to get public money by making promises they do not intend to keep, or deals to pay back just a fraction of the money when they want to change the basis of the original promises they made.”