Saturday, July 20News For London

Iain Duncan Smith slams Government’s austerity programme

Iain Duncan Smith has launched a series of attacks against the government following his resignation as Work and Pensions Secretary.

©Brian Minkoff under Creative Commons, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
©Brian Minkoff under Creative Commons, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Duncan Smith said that the planned cuts to welfare might risk dividing society, in his first interview since he stepped down last Friday.

Duncan Smith resigned in a protest over cuts to disability benefits announced during Wednesday’s Budget. He specifically attacked Osborne’s measures as being “distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest”.

Former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has been appointed as the new Work and Pensions Secretary.

During the Interview Mr Duncan Smith denied that his resignation was linked to a cabinet split over the EU referendum vote and the decision was not “personal” against George Osborne.

He criticised the Chancellor for pursuing a “desperate search for savings” rather than drawing a plan to help benefits claimants back into work. He said that this line of action might ruin the image of the Conservative party that has always claimed to be one “nation party”.

“The truth is yes, we need to get the deficit down, but we need to make sure we widen the scope of where we look and not just narrow it down on working age benefits.”

He added “Because otherwise it just looks like we see this as a pot of money, that it doesn’t matter because they don’t vote for us … This is not the way to do government.”

Duncan Smith’s comments triggered a series of reactions across Politics.

Baroness Ros Altmann said she had found working for Duncan Smith “extremely difficult” and accused him of trying to damage the leadership to support the “leaving EU” campaign.

On the other hand Labour welfare spokesman Owen Smith welcomed Duncan Smith’s decision to resign as he is “very honest in explaining how George Osborne could have taken different choices” and this has finally shown “the fundamental unfairness at the heart of government policy”.

UKIP MP Douglas Carswell took on Twitter to share his reaction to the interview.

Subedited by Giovanni Prati