Theresa May was ridiculed by Jeremy Corbyn in Prime Minister’s Question Time as she forgot that Labour introduced the national minimum wage – and she voted against it.
The Prime Minister was on the defensive as the Labour leader hammered home calls for an end to the 1% pay cap on public sector workers.
Corbyn had raised the case of ‘Sarah’, a nurse who is among millions who haven’t had a pay rise for five years.
May hit back: “We created the National Living Wage, that was the biggest pay increase for people on lowest incomes ever.
“When did the Labour party introduce the national living wage? Never! That was a Conservative government and a Conservative record.”
But Corbyn swiftly pointed out that Labour was in fact the party that introduced the minimum wage in 1999 - despite being bitterly opposed by the Tories.
“It was Labour that first introduced the minimum wage - with opposition from the Conservative Party,” he said.
May herself was among the Conservative MPs who voted against the radical move by the Blair government.
The Tory party claimed that the minimum wage would destroy jobs and be a burden on employers, but the rate set by the Low Pay Commission disproved such warnings.
A Labour spokesman told HuffPost UK: “It’s unbelievable that Theresa May not only forgot that Labour introduced the minimum wage - but that she voted against it.”
Former Chancellor George Osborne introduced what he called ‘the national living wage’ in his 2015 Budget, claiming it would start at £7.20 an hour and rise to £9 an hour by 2020.
But critics have claimed this is a “marketing con” as the “real living wage” - an independently assessed rate needed to meet families’ costs - is higher at £8.45 per hour for the UK and £9.75 in London.
In April this year, the national minimum wage was increased to £7.50 an hour for those aged over 24. Those aged between 21 and 24 get £7.05 per hour, while under 21s get £5.60 an hour.
At the last general election, Labour campaigned on a pledge to increase the national minimum to £10 an hour by 2020.
May faced embarrassment during the campaign when a factory worker in Leeds challenged her on the lack of a concrete ‘offer’ for families struggling to make ends meet - and challenged her to match Labour’s pledge.
After saying that “parents are now thinking they are better off not working” due to childcare costs, the worker said: “Jeremy Corbyn is saying to put wages up to £10, that’s the only thing that is going to help us out.
“Other than that, nothing’s going to help us. We need money. Bills will go up eventually.”