Labour MP Zarah Sultana Slams 'Crushing' Student Debt, Brandishing Loan Statement In Commons

Rachel Wearmouth
Labour MP Zarah Sultana Slams 'Crushing' Student Debt, Brandishing Loan Statement In Commons
Labour MP Zarah Sultana Slams 'Crushing' Student Debt, Brandishing Loan Statement In Commons

Labour MP Zarah Sultana has slammed the “colossal” debt students are being saddled with as she held aloft her loan statement in the Commons.

The 26-year-old asked universities minister Chris Skidmore to “look me in the eye and say with a straight face” that the government imposing university fees on working class students was fair.

She also pointed out prime minister Boris Johnson, who comes from a privileged background, had gone “from the playing fields of Eton to a free education at Oxford”.

Sultana was 17 when the coalition government tripled tuition fees and was in the first cohort of students to pay £9,000-a-year.

She was brandishing her latest student loan statement which shows that her student debt rose to £46,198, with £2,022 added in interest in the last year alone.

Sultana said: “In 2010, like thousands of other young people, I argued against the tripling of tuition fees.

“But the government ignored us. And now I am in nearly £50,000 of debt.

“This is my latest student loan statement. As it says, in the last year alone the interest added was £2,022.65.

“So I ask the secretary of state, can he look me in the eye and say with a straight face that it is fair that working class kids who want an education are forced to take on this crushing debt when his government is led by a man who went from the playing fields of Eton to a free education at Oxford?”

Replying to Sultana, Skidmore said students would pay nothing until they were earning £25,000 and that the number of people from disadvantaged backgrounds attending university has risen 62% since 2009.

He added that the government was committed to reviewing the rates of interest that students would be asked to pay.

Tory MP Andrew Percy, meanwhile, called on Skidmore to “ignore the class warfare” as he too argued that more working class people were going to university.

Sultana, the new MP for Coventry has been making waves since winning her seat in the December general election.

In her maiden speech, she accused the government of betraying her generation with “rising rents, frozen wages and diminishing opportunities”.

She has also attracted criticism from her own side after saying prime minister Boris Johnson’s victory did not end “40 years of Thatcherism”, suggesting that Tony Blair’s Labour administration carried on Tory policies.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.