Keir Starmer Wins Shadow Cabinet Backing Over Benefit Cap Row Despite Labour MPs' Anger

No members of the party leader's top team spoke out against the policy at a meeting this morning.
Keir Starmer has come in for widespread criticism for refusing to scrap the Tory policy.
Keir Starmer has come in for widespread criticism for refusing to scrap the Tory policy.
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Keir Starmer has won the backing of Labour’s shadow cabinet over his pledge not to scrap the Tories’ two-child benefit cap if he becomes prime minister.

HuffPost UK revealed yesterday how Labour MPs - including some frontbenchers - were in “meltdown” over the announcement, which Starmer made in a BBC interview on Sunday morning.

Appearing on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, the Labour leader was asked if he would scrap the two-child cap it if Labour 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.

At a meeting of the shadow cabinet this morning, HuffPost UK understands that no one spoke out against Labour’s policy.

Among those who spoke in support of Starmer’s position was shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth, who last month described the two-child benefit cap as “heinous”.

Other supporters included shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy and Pat McFadden, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.

McFadden told the meeting that the economy may be in a worse state than currently feared, meaning there would be even less money for Labour to spend on its own priorities.

Starmer said: “Liz Truss tried unfunded commitments. And she proved that if you go down that route, you lose control of the economy.

“But it’s not the Tories who are paying the price – it’s working people. They’re going to be paying the price for a very long time to come, week after week, month after month, with higher bills, because she made unfunded promises. It doesn’t matter if it’s unfunded tax cuts or unfunded commitments - it’s working people who suffer.

“I will not let an incoming Labour government lose control of the economy because I know what it will do to working people.”

He also said Labour would need to make “tough choices” to make itself electable.

“Tough choices give us the platform and the permission to have a bold reforming Labour government that can do those things, raising living standards, investing in public services, tackling child poverty,” Starmer said.

“It’s vital to us being able to do what we need to do in government and getting over the line.”

However, there remains substantial anger among Starmer’s MPs over the row, with several speaking out against his comments at last night’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who is currently suspended as a Labour MP and banned from standing at the next election – said many of his former colleagues were “seething”.

He told LBC: “Even the [Tony] Blair government, which Keir Starmer often quotes, did do a great deal to lift children out of poverty by not having a two-child policy.”


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