Home secretary Priti Patel has come under fire for saying the Tory government should not be held responsible for poverty in the UK.
When asked about the fact that four in 10 children in parts of Barrow in Cumbria are born into poverty, Patel passed on the blame to local government and services.
“Well it’s appalling, and of course, but everybody – and it’s not just people in Westminster – it’s not just at a national level, it’s at a local level,” she said during a campaign visit to Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria.
When asked to clarify if the government was not responsible for poverty, Patel replied: “It’s not the government, though, is it? Everybody just says ‘the government’ as if it is this sort of bland blob that, you know, you can just go and blame.”
Pressed further, she added: “Actually, it’s, well, it’s not [the government’s fault], because it’s all parts of society and the structures. Local authorities have a role to play, education, public services, which are locally led and locally run.”
Condemning Patel’s remarks, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Tory government should take responsibility for poverty in the country.
“Priti Patel’s claims in this video are yet another example of the Tory government’s cruelty. Local government has suffered enormously from vicious Tory cuts. Of course we can blame the Tory government for poverty.”
Labour’s candidate for the marginal Barrow and Furness seat, Chris Altree, tweeted: “More than a quarter of children in Barrow are living in poverty and that situation is directly ascribable to benefit cuts that have been imposed by this Conservative government.
“Many people in our communities are working poor and the comments from Priti Patel show just how out of touch the Conservatives are with working people.”
Labour’s Keir Starmer too branded her “completely out of touch”.
He wrote: “Priti Patel is completely out of touch. I blame austerity for the rise in poverty and I blame this Tory government for austerity.”