POLITICS

Disability Cuts Protestors Occupy Parliament During PMQs

Campaigners shouted for Osborne to quit just yards from PMQs

23/03/2016 13:55 GMT | Updated 23/03/2016 15:21 GMT

 

Protestors against disability benefit cuts this afternoon staged a noisy demonstration in the heart of Parliament, just yards from where David Cameron was defending his welfare policy.

About 20 protestors, including two wheelchair users, held up banners and chanted ‘No more deaths from benefits cuts’ as Prime Minister's Questions took place in the Commons.

BBC reporter Norman Smith was told to stop broadcasting from Central Lobby while the protest took place.

 The protestors stayed in Central Lobby – the area between the Commons and Lords – for an hour, and Green MP Caroline Lucas joined in with the chanting after arriving to show her support.

 

 

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is believed to have addressed the crowd, and former SNP leader Alex Salmond also turned up to see the protestors in action.

One Tory MP, Dr Tania Mathias, did seek to engage with the crowd, and got a member of Parliament’s staff to announce over the tannoy that if any of the protestors were from her constituency of Twickenham she would meet with them to address their concerns.

None of the protestors took up her offer.

One of the campaigners, Alison Playford – who joined the Labour Party last year as a £3 member to back Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid – said: "We think Osborne needs to resign immediately - he has presided over a complete debacle of a Budget.

IDS resigning after a supposed moment of conscience over disability cuts is never going to be accepted by the disability movement. He has punished so many people in this country over the past six years. 

“But it does highlight what an absolute catastrophe that they have made and what a debacle the whole thing is. So as much as we don’t accept his reason for resigning we do accept that its an illustration of the depth of the problem.

“They have decimated the welfare state and killed disabled people.”

About 15 police officers and security staff stood between the protestors and the entrance to the Commons chamber, and groups of school children on visits to Westminster hurried past the noisy campaigners.

 One man involved even pulled out a harmonica to play along with a chant of: “We want Osborne out”.

The group were calling for the Government to axe the planned £30 a week cut to benefits for unemployed disabled people judged fit for “work related activities”.

The campaigners voluntarily left Central Lobby at just after 1pm.