Picture: Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The British Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has been criticised fiercely ahead of the make-or-break Budget this week, after claiming that “there are no unemployed people.”
The Chancellor made the said statement as he painted a rosy picture of the economy bouncing back from the long downturn, with both the deficit and inflation dropping.
Hammond asked the Andrew Marr programme on BBC: “Where are all these unemployed people? There are no unemployed people.”
However, the latest unemployment figures reveal that the jobless count was at 1.42m between July and September 2017.
Labour took on the blunder as Jon Trickett, the Shadow Cabinet Office minister, stating: “The Chancellor is living on another planet.
“The Tories have become even more out of touch and are now so inwards looking that they have no clue of the experiences of ordinary people suffering from 7 years of Tory austerity.”
The gaffe comes at the worst possible time for Hammond, as Prime Minister Theresa May remains to face pressure from Brexit-backing Tories to dismiss him.
It is thought that he only survived at the Treasury because the Prime Minister was too weak to sack him, following her general election debacle last June.
The comment of Hammond came as he denied that his plan to put driverless cars on the roads of United Kingdom by 2021 would lead to truck and taxi drivers being unemployed.
“I remember 20 years ago we were worrying about what was going to happen to the million shorthand typists in Britain as the personal computer took over,” Hammond informed Marr. “Well, nobody has a shorthand typist these days.”
Hammond continued: “Where are all these unemployed people? There are no unemployed people.
“We’ve created 3.5million new jobs since 2010. This economy has become a jobs factory, constantly reinventing itself, constantly creating new jobs and careers,” Hammond argued.
Marr, himself, described the comment of the Chancellor as “extraordinary” and questioned whether the 1.42 million unemployed people had been “forgotten by the government.”
“No, they haven’t been forgotten by this government,” Hammond replied. “It was the last Labour government that abandoned the unemployed, ignored them, dumped them on welfare.”
Speaking on ITV’s Peston On Sunday programme later did Hammond retract his comment, stating: “Of course I didn’t mean that [there is no unemployment].
“There’s 1.4 million unemployed people in this country and that’s 1.4 million too many. But we have record low levels of unemployment, it hasn’t been this low since the 1970s.
“But the point I was making to your former colleague Andrew Marr is that previous waves of technological change have not resulted in millions of people being long-term unemployed.
“They have been re-absorbed into the workforce.”