New Tory Chairman Distances Himself From Lee Anderson's Foodbank Comments

Greg Hands repeatedly refused to say whether he agreed with his new deputy.
Greg Hands made his comments while being interviewed on LBC
Greg Hands made his comments while being interviewed on LBC

Tory chairman Greg Hands has refused to back his new deputy’s controversial comments about nurses who use foodbanks.

Lee Anderson came in for criticism last month after he said anyone earning more than £30,000 who relies on handouts must have “something wrong” with their finances.

He said: “I heard some nonsense a few weeks back that nurses were actually stealing food off patients’ plates. I don’t believe it.

“Anybody earning 30 odd grand a year, which most nurses are, using food banks, then they’ve got something wrong with their own finances.”

Rishi Sunak shocked Westminster yesterday when he made Anderson - who has made a series of controversial comments on a range of issues - the new Tory deputy chairman.

Hands, who was also appointed to his new role as chairman yesterday as part of the prime minister’s mini-reshuffle, was asked whether he backed Anderson while being interviewed by LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

He replied: “Well, I’m not going to… I think you’re asking me to comment on my new deputy Lee Anderson’s views recently.

“What I would say is that Lee I think is a fantastic asset to the party overall.”

Ferrari said: “Is he right in saying that, Mr. Chairman? Anyone earning 30 odd grand a year, they’ve got something wrong with their finances using food banks?”

Hands responded: “Again I’m not going to comment on things that have been said in the past.

“What I am doing is looking forward as chairman of the Conservative Party to working with Lee, getting the Conservative Party message out going forward.

“Lee will be a fantastic asset to the party. I think he and I will work together really well. That’s what motivates me.”

Hands was also put on the spot in a separate interview on Sky News over the UK’s response to the earthquake in Turkey.

More than 9,500 people have so far died following the tragedy, with the death toll expected to reach 20,000.

Presenter Kay Burley asked Hands why the UK had cut its aid budget from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5%.

“We’re the six largest economy in the world, you can see this tented city behind me, these people are sleeping in ice and snow in sub-zero temperatures,” she said.

“They’ve absolutely lost everything that they had - they ran out in their bare feet some of them. They’re relying on countries like us. We said we’d give 0.7% of our GDP and we’re not.”

But Hands said the UK was “one of the biggest bilateral donors” and added: “I absolutely understand the situation, I know that region well, I’ve travelled in that region before myself.

“I can feel what people will be going through, but our position is very favourable compared to other international countries and we are committed to improving on that position going forward.”


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