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Controversial Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed today the rise in use of food banks is down to the Conservative Party telling people they are there.
The right-winger who is touted as a future party leader said Labour had deliberately hidden the fact support was available.
He described charities giving out emergency food packages as a “rather uplifting” sign of a compassionate country.
Speaking on LBC Radio, the Eton-education MP said: “Food banks pre-date the Conservative Government. Crucially the change that look place was that the Conservative Government allowed the Job Centre Plus to tell people that food banks existed and the former Labour Government would not tell them. And that was a policy decision to stop people knowing that there was help available.”
“I don’t think the state can do everything. It tries and it provides a base of welfare that should allow people to make ends meet during the course of the week but on some occasions that will not work. To have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good compassionate country we are.”
The Trussell Trust which runs a network of 400 food banks provided 1,182,954 three-day emergency supplies to people in the UK in 2016/17 – the highest level ever recorded.
Pushed by presenter Nick Ferrari on whether people are choosing to use food banks over buying their own food from shops, Mr Rees-Mogg admitted that people have “found life tough” but that the best way out of poverty is through employment.
The Tory back-bencher and practising Catholic sparked controversy last week when he said he opposed gay marriage as well as abortion in all circumstances, even rape and incest.
Today he poured cold water on rumours circulating over the summer that he has leadership ambitions.
He said: “I’ve no wish to become leader of the Conservative party. I’m fully supporting Mrs May.”
Labour’s party chairman, Ian Lavery MP, said: “The real reason people are going to food banks in record numbers is because the Tories have slashed public sector jobs and living standards over the last seven years, plunging more families into poverty and homelessness. This kind of comment shows Jacob Rees Mogg really is the dictionary definition of an out of touch Tory.”
He also dismissed any likelihood he would serve in Mrs May’s Cabinet.
Asked what Cabinet job he would like, Mr Rees-Mogg said “that’s not going to happen”, adding that when Mrs May was asked about this she laughed for the longest amount of time since the General Election.
“I was delighted to bring some happiness and joy to our distinguished Prime Minister, but that’s how seriously she takes it,” he said.
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