Keir Starmer Refusing To Back Down As Criticism Mounts Over Benefits Cap Pledge

The Labour leader will be confronted a meeting of the shadow cabinet this morning.
Keir Starmer will send a defiant message to his shadow cabinet this morning.
Keir Starmer will send a defiant message to his shadow cabinet this morning.
Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images

Keir Starmer is refusing to back down despite mounting criticism of his decision to keep the two-child benefit cap if Labour wins the next election.

The Labour leader is set to be confronted over the controversial policy at a meeting of the shadow cabinet this morning.

But senior party sources have told HuffPost UK that Starmer will “hold the line” and warn his colleagues that Labour must not make unfunded spending commitments.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell told Times Radio: “It is a really difficult situation that we find ourselves in with the economy being crashed after 13 years of Conservative government, where our political aspirations meet hard economic realities.

“We can’t do everything that we would want to do in the first term of a Labour government because there’s no money left. Every promise that we make has to be fully costed.”

Nevertheless, shadow cabinet members - including some of Starmer’s strongest supporters - are privately critical of his handling of the row.

Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, the Labour leader was asked if he would scrap the two-child cap it if he wins the next election.

He replied: “We are not changing that policy.”

That is despite the fact that Starmer tweeted in 2020 that he wanted to scrap the “inhuman” measure.

And just last month, shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth described the two-child cap as “heinous”.

One shadow cabinet member told HuffPost UK: “I thought his entire interview was good, but he wasn’t eloquent enough in explaining the two child stuff.

“The policy hasn’t changed, it’s just we can’t do it until we sort the economy. Child poverty will be top of the agenda, but he just didn’t give any explanation.”

Another Labour MP said the situation had been “handled awfully - it’s an odd row to create”.

Several MPs also made clear their anger at Starmer’s position at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party last night.

A senior Labour insider said: “He could have explained how much he wants to get rid of it, alongside tuition fees and ten other things, but all of this will depend what situation we inherit when we come into office, and there’s no point making promises at this stage if we don’t know when or if we’ll be able to keep them. That would have been the end of the story.”

Meanwhile, Starmer will be interviewed by former Labour prime minister, Tony Blair, at an event in London this afternoon.


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