Priti Patel under fire for claiming Tory government 'not to blame' for poverty

Ben Morgan
Home Secretary Priti Patel visits Chessington School in Chessington: PA

Priti Patel has been criticised after claiming the Government is "not to blame” for poverty.

The Home Secretary made the comments in an interview with BBC North West, when she was asked if the Government held any responsibility for people living in poverty.

Speaking on a campaign visit to Barrow, in Cumbria, she said: “Everybody just says it’s the Government as if it’s this bland blob you can just go and blame.

“Well, it’s not. It’s all parts of society and the structures. Local authorities have a role to play, education, public services, which are locally led and locally run.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel visits Chessington School in Chessington (PA)

She said it was “appalling” that four in 10 children in parts of Barrow were born into poverty.

Her comments sparked an immediate backlash with senior Labour figures calling it “cruel”.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “Priti Patel’s claims in this video are yet another example of the Tory Government cruelty.”

Sir Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, called the remarks “out of touch”.

The video was posted on Twitter on Thursday morning but was removed and reposted a short time later, leading some critics to claim the BBC covered up the comments.

BBC North West later tweeted: “The original tweet contained what appeared to be a direct quote from Priti Patel’s interview.

“This was in fact a paraphrase of Ms Patel’s comments and not a direct quote. We have reposted the tweet removing that quote.”

Voters also took to Twitter to have their say on Ms Patel's remarks.

Audrey Gillan said: “Poverty is not the fault of government, says Priti Patel with a straight face. In a food bank, in Barrow, where four out of 10 children are in poverty.”

Jude Rodgers said: “Her unbelievable effrontery knows no bounds. I sometimes wonder if she thinks she’s auditioning to be a Bond villain rather than being Home Secretary.”

Academic Sandra Leaton Gray tweeted: “Some politicians genuinely think that vast tracts of the British population suddenly lost the ability to manage their money in 2010, hence rising food bank use. Must have been an asteroid strike.”

The Conservative Party has been approached by the Standard for comment.