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Labour Party Tuition Fee Debt Row Grows After Shadow Minister Imran Hussain's Facebook Video Emerges

Is this the 'student debt smoking gun'?

25/07/2017 13:32

A Labour Party candidate told voters during the election campaign that Jeremy Corbyn would write off tuition fee debts for thousands of students, it has emerged. 

There has been a fierce row in recent weeks over whether the Labour leader vowed to abolish the historic debts, which are now understood to be worth £100 billion. 

While Tories have attacked Labour for “deceiving” young voters, Corbyn and the party have insisted he never made such a pledge. 

Corbyn told Andrew Marr on Sunday: “I recognised it was a huge burden, I did not make a commitment we would write it off because I couldn’t at that stage.” 

But a campaign video by shadow justice minister Imran Hussain reveals that he told voters that Corbyn had declared “that every existing student will have all their debts wiped off”.  

PA Archive/PA Images
Imran Hussain told voters in a campaign video that Corbyn had announced that 'every existing student will have all their debts wiped off' 

In the footage, which was uncovered by Guido Fawkes but is currently still available on Hussain’s official Facebook page, the now re-elected Bradford East MP tells voters: “Just this morning Jeremy Corbyn has announced that the tuition fees will be abolished straight away from September if there is a Labour government and that we will bring back immediately EMA.  

“And also that every existing student will have all their debts wiped off.” 

Addressing the primary school children around his desk, Hussain adds: “That’s fantastic news, isn’t it guys?” 

Just yesterday, Hussain retweeted a message from deputy Labour leader Tom Watson saying the Tories had “made up fake Labour policy” about tuition fee debt “to attack us”.

Imran Hussain
Hussain retweeted Tom Watson's claims yesterday 

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, who was first elected in 2005, has also faced criticism for failing to dispel claims that Corbyn would wipe out debt for thousands of recent graduates. 

In a tweet sent on June 2, the Washington and Sunderland West MP wrote: “Jeremy Corbyn: Labour could write off historic student debts. All those in early 20′s with student debt #VoteLabour”. 

Sharon Hodgsonn
Hodgson said Corbyn 'could' write off historic student debts 

On Monday, Hodgson sent a tweet saying: “No, Jeremy Corbyn didn’t ’mislead people over tuition fees - and Theresa May is misleading people about it.” 

Sharon Hodgson
Hodgson accused Theresa May of misleading people over Corbyn's student debt policy 

Political commentator and Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges wrote on Twitter: “The @SharonHodgsonMP tweet is the student debt smoking gun. Corbynites can hardly cry ‘smear’ when shadow ministers were pushing the line.” 

But many voters have rushed to defend Labour, saying Corbyn never promised to wipe student debt in the first place: 

It was during an interview with NME that the controversy over Corbyn’s student debt policy began. 

The Labour leader told the magazine: “Yes, there is a block of those that currently have a massive debt, and I’m looking at ways that we could reduce that, ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off, or some other means of reducing that debt burden.”  

“I don’t have the simple answer for it yet - I don’t think anybody would expect me to, because this election was called unexpectedly; we had two weeks to prepare all this - but I’m very well aware of that problem,” Corbyn continued. 

“And I don’t see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively compared to those that went before or those that come after. I will deal with it.”   

A Labour spokesperson told HuffPost UK today: “Labour’s manifesto pledged to scrap tuition fees from 2018 and write off the first year of fees for students starting university this September, so that no one is priced out of getting a degree or has to defer their start date by a year before benefitting.

“During the campaign, we also said we would protect graduates from above inflation interest rate rises on existing debt and look for ways to ameliorate this debt burden in future.”

Hussain’s office has yet to respond to HuffPost UK’s requests for comment. 

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