Shailesh Vara hits out at Daily Mirror story over benefits comments in parliament

Shailesh Vara
Shailesh Vara
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MP Shailesh Vara has hit out at the Daily Mirror for taking comments he made in parliament “completely out of context.”

Mr Vara, the MP for North West Cambridgeshire and Work and Pensions minister, was labelled by the paper as a “bungling Tory” who had claimed “welfare cuts won’t hurt Britain’s poorest people because they’re saving £10 on filling their cars.”

Mr Vara, who was speaking during a House of Commons debate on cuts to Universal Credit work allowances, also had a dig at shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith who told The Mirror that the minister’s comments were a “car crash.”

Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, Mr Vara said: “The story is completely out of context - it’s very selective of my comments.

“I specifically said that it’s important to look at the broader picture.

“If it’s a car crash then why has no other paper picked it up?”

Mr Vara asked for his full remarks in parliament to be used as a response to The Mirror article.

According to Hansard, which produces a verbatim report of what is said in the Commons and House of Lords, Mr Vara said: “It is important that the right hon. Gentleman and others take into account the need to consider the broader perspective: the raising of personal allowances; the introduction of the new living wage; the doubling of free childcare to 30 hours; tax-free childcare from early 2017; and, let us not forget, the fact that every time we fill up our tank with petrol there is a saving of £10 because of the freezing of the fuel duty.

“It is important to consider everything in a broader perspective, not the narrow perspective that we have heard from so many opposition members.”

Mr Vara also went on the offensive against Mr Smith who he said “has a mate at The Mirror” and was trying to “hype himself up.”

He also criticised him for remarks made during the debate which he said were wrong.

Mr Vara said: “It’s a desperate opposition front-bencher trying to make a story where there’s not one.”

On the Universal Credit work allowances Mr Vara added: “We are making a reduction in the working allowance. People are allowed to earn up to a certain amount. Anything beyond that, they get to keep some of that, but some of the benefits get reduced.

“You earn more than the benefits get taken away.

“We are reducing the amount before the reductions kick in.”

Mr Vara added: “Many people regularly fill up their petrol tanks and the regular £10 savings mount up.

“For people that fill up every week that’s £520 a year. It may not be a lot of money to Owen Smith, but it certainly is a lot of money to most other people.”


The full debate in the Commons

The Daily Mirror article