Jeremy Corbyn has challenged the Prime Minister over whether Surrey County Council was given a "sweetheart deal" after Surrey leader David Hodge backtracked on his plans for a council tax referendum.

Councillor Hodge made the shock u-turn as councillors were due to vote for a 15 per cent council tax increase - the largest in the country - yesterday after delaying the budget announcement for some three hours.

He confirmed after the meeting that the delays had been due to phone conversations he had been making to people within central government.

Today at the Prime Minister's questions, Mr Corbyn asked whether a "special deal" had been struck between the county council and the Government as he read leaked messages between Cllr Hodge and a member of the department for communities and local government.

The Labour leader said: "I've been leaked copies of texts sent by the Tory leader David Hodge intended for somebody called Nick, who works for ministers in the department for communities and local government. 

"And these texts read: 'I'm advised that DCLG officials have been working on a solution and you will be contacting me to agree a memorandum of understanding'.

"Will the government now publish this memorandum of understanding and while they're at it, will all councils be offered the same deal?"

Mrs May responded by saying that the Government had given all councils the opportunity to raise the 3 per cent precept ring-fenced for adult social care to find the "best solution" for the crisis.

But a second text revealed by Mr Corbyn implied that Surrey County Council had been offered a sum to cancel the referendum.

Reading the message from Cllr Hodge, he said: "'The numbers you indicated are the numbers that I understand are acceptable for me to accept and call off the 'R'.'

Mr Corbyn continued: "I've been reading a bit of John le Carré and the 'R' means referendum. It's very subtle all this.

"He goes on to say in his text to Nick: 'If it is possible for that info to be sent to myself, I can then revert back soonest, really want to kill this off.'

Challenging Mrs May, Mr Corbyn said: "So how much did the Government offer Surrey to kill this off? Is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing the social care crisis created by her Government?"

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The texts said to have been sent by Cllr Hodge (pic: PA)

Mrs May responded by reaffirming that to increase the adult social care precept was "on offer to all councils", adding that Mr Corbyn "fails to recognise that you can only spend money on social care and on the NHS if you have a strong economy."

The texts are believed to have been intended for Nick King, a special adviser to Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid.

But a Downing Street spokesman said the messages, sent on February 3, four days before the 15 per cent tax hike was deserted, were not received by Mr King.

Mr Corbyn's office refused to comment on reports that they were sent in error to Newcastle County Council's Labour leader Nick Forbes, with a spokesman saying only that the messages "came from a source".

However Cllr Hodge denied a deal had been struck between the Government and county council.

He said: "Surrey’s decision not to proceed with a 15 per cent council tax increase was ours alone and there has been no deal between Surrey County Council and the Government.

"However, I am confident that the Government now understands the real pressures in adult social care and the need for a lasting solution."

Hazel Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats at the county council said that none of the information mentioned by Mr Corbyn had been shared with councillors at yesterday's meeting.

She said: "We need to know the precise details of what Surrey has been offered. The culture of secrecy that the Conservatives thrive upon at County Hall must end now.

"I am calling for the full release to county councillors of any deal agreed between the Leader of the Council and the government.

"We are facing £93m of cuts and a £30m black hole in the next financial year - it is the Leader of the Council's job to tell us where the money will come from to avoid these damaging cuts.

"Why can't he come clean with councillors and Surrey residents and tell us the facts?"

A Downing Street spokesman said there is "no sweetheart deal".