Tory fury as Corbyn accuses them of labelling disabled people ‘scroungers’
Jeremy Corbyn triggered fury on the Tory benches as he accused them of labelling disabled people “scroungers” and creating a “hostile environment” for people on benefits.
Prime Minister Theresa May could be seen saying “outrageous” while her Conservative colleagues shouted “Withdraw” at the Labour leader as he criticised the Government’s treatment of disabled people.
Despite recent Brexit chaos for the Government, Mr Corbyn focused his remarks at Prime Minister’s Questions on the welfare system and urged Mrs May to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Corbyn referenced a United Nations report into the Government’s welfare policies and said Mrs May did not agree with it as it presents an “unpalatable truth”.
He added: “The new Work and Pensions Secretary (Amber Rudd) seems to have taken a lesson from her and created a hostile environment for those that are claiming benefits.
“One of the Government’s policies that is causing the greatest anxiety and poverty is Universal Credit, the UN rapporteur Professor (Philip) Alston said it was fast falling into universal discredit.
“When will the Prime Minister demonstrate some of her professed concern about burning injustices and halt the roll-out of Universal Credit?”
Mrs May responded by saying the Government had “listened” to concerns about the benefit and had “made changes”, having earlier defended her economic record as she argued against the report.
Mr Corbyn later advised that “food banks are not just a photo opportunity for Conservative MPs” as he raised further concerns.
After the Opposition leader referred to Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane’s suggestion of a “lost decade” for wage growth, Tory MPs cried “your fault” at the Labour benches.
Mr Corbyn, during his final question, said: “When I hear a Prime Minister talking about difficult decisions, what always happens afterwards in this context is the poorest lose out in our society – 4.3 million disabled people are now in poverty, 50,000 were hit by appalling cuts to the Employment Support Allowance benefit alone last year.
“This Government labelled disabled people scroungers, it called those unable to work skivers…”
At this point, Mrs May could be seen saying “outrageous”, while Tory colleagues urged Mr Corbyn to withdraw his claim, which prompted Commons Speaker John Bercow to intervene.
Mr Bercow took against Home Secretary Sajid Javid for offering “advice”, adding: “He should seek to discharge his own obligations in his office to the best of his ability – I require no advice from (Mr Javid) on the discharge of mine. Be clear about that.”
Mr Corbyn added: “This Government also created a hostile environment for the Windrush generation.
“When the UN rapporteur said British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited and callous approach, he couldn’t have summed up this contemptible Government any better.
“Child poverty is rising, homelessness rising, destitution rising, household debt rising – when will the Prime Minister turn her warm words into action?
“End the benefit freeze, repeal the bedroom tax, scrap the two-child cap and halt the roll-out of Universal Credit.”
Mrs May replied: “I’ll tell him when the poorest lose out – it’s when a Labour government comes in.”
The PM added: “Every Labour government leaves office with unemployment higher than when it went into office.
“So what do we see under this Government? Our economy is growing, employment is rising, investment is up, we’ve given the NHS the biggest single cash boost in its history, taxes are being cut, wages are rising – Labour would destroy all that.”