Keir Starmer Mocks Labour Critics Of Two-Child Benefit Cap – And Compares Them To Liz Truss

Labour leader says former Tory PM's mini-Budget shows what happens if governments make "unfunded commitments".
Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images

Keir Starmer has accused Labour critics who attacked his plan to stick to the Conservative Party’s two-child cap on benefits of dodging “tough decisions”, as he said they were acting like Liz Truss.

The Labour leader’s announcement he would not scrap the controversial policy - which he once described as “inhumane” - should he win the election has caused a public rift in the party.

HuffPost UK revealed yesterday how Labour MPs - including some frontbenchers - were in “meltdown” over the move. Although no one spoke out against it during a meeting of Starmer’s top team today.

In an interview with Tony Blair at a conference in Westminster on Tuesday afternoon, Starmer rebuffed demands he change his mind.

“We keep saying collectively as a party we’ve go take tough decisions,” he said. “In the abstract everyone says: ‘that’s right Keir’.

“And then we get a tough decision - we have been in one of those for the last few days - they say: ‘I don’t like that. Can we just not make that one. I am sure there is another tough decision somewhere else we can make’.”

Stamer said the market turmoil that followed Truss’ mini-Budget showed what happened if a government announced “unfunded tax cuts” or “unfunded spending”.

“She proved the thesis if you make unfunded commitments then the economy is damaged and working people pay the price.

“If you want proof that unfunded commitments cause economic damage which is then visited on working people, you’ve got a living example of that.”

He added: “I will not let the next Labour government get anywhere near the equivalent of what Liz Truss did.”

Under the benefit cap, parents are not able to claim child tax credit or universal credit for any third or subsequent child born after April 2017.

It was first announced by George Osborne and Labour has previously signalled its opposition.

Starmer tweeted in 2020 that he wanted to get rid of the “inhuman” measure.

Just last month it was attacked by Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth as “heinous”.

The Child Poverty Action Group (Cpag) has warned the cap is “pushing families into deep poverty”.

According to the charity, it affects 1.5 million children including 1.1 million children growing up in poverty, with their families are missing out on up to £3,235 a year.

The row was triggered on Sunday when Starmer appeared on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme.

Asked if he would scrap the cap, he replied: “We are not changing that policy.”

During the interview as part of the Future of Britain conference, Blair praised Starmer as having done an “amazing job” as Labour leader so far.


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