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Caroline Lucas Makes Brutal Joke About Southern Rail After Solo Challenge To Government Over Franchise

That's a lot of empty green benches.

13/09/2016 13:32 | Updated 14 September 2016

 Caroline Lucas launched a fierce attack at Conservative ministers last night for their refusal to strip Southern Rail of franchises worth tens of millions of pounds. 

The Green MP was the only person in the House of Commons chamber late on Monday night challenging the government.

She pulled transport minister Paul Maynard up on strikes by Southern Rail staff over safety concerns about scrapping on-board guards and making drivers responsible for sole operation of a train. 

Maynard had been criticising the recent industrial action, saying Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) - the company Southern Rail works under - was forced to cut services. 

But Lucas hit back from the opposition benches, saying many of the guards she had spoken to were striking “very reluctantly” and were only doing so because they “genuinely believed there are safety concerns with driver-only operation”. 

In the aftermath, Lucas tackled Southern by writing in a post on Twitter:

Earlier this month, Southern Rail commuters were left in disbelief after the Go-Ahead Group reported profits of nearly £100 million despite claiming Southern was “unable to run a functioning service”.

Rail union RMT slammed the news as “shameful” and commuters were aghast at how such profits were possible when the service Southern provides was “such a joke”.

A Southern spokesman said: “Southern made zero profits last year. All our income went into delivering the service. The profits figure being reported relates to other businesses owned by our parent company, primarily the bus division. Southern is not expected to make a profit in the coming year either.”

The government have repeatedly dismissed suggestions from Lucas and Sadiq Khan that Southern should lose its franchise. 

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