UK: Blow to Cameron as senior minister quits

19th Mar 2016
UK: Blow to Cameron as senior minister quits

LONDON (AA) – A senior British minister dramatically resigned on Friday night after describing government welfare cuts as “a compromise too far”.

Iain Duncan Smith [IDS], the Work and Pensions Secretary, said he was unable to continue in his role following demands by Finance Minister George Osborne to repeatedly “salami slice” welfare payments. In an usual move Prime Minister David Cameron responded bitterly in a letter to IDS on his resignation, He did not congratulate on his work in the Government. PM was “puzzled” and “disappointed” on his resignation which came out of the blue.

Smith had been told this week to cut up to £4 billion [$5.79bn] from benefits for people with disabilities.

But in a stinging resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron he said: “I have for some time and rather reluctantly come to believe that the latest changes to benefits to the disabled and the context in which they’ve been made, are a compromise too far.”

He said the governing Conservatives’ financial plans were designed to benefit higher-earning taxpayers and pensioners – traditionally part of the party’s voter base.

“I am unable to watch passively whilst certain policies are enacted in order to meet the fiscal self-imposed restraints that I believe are more and more perceived as distinctly political rather than in the national interest,” he said.

Cameron’s letter to IDS, “I regret that you have chosen to step down from the Government at this moment. Together we designed the Personal Independence Payment to support the most vulnerable and to give disabled people more independence. We all agreed that the increased resources being spent on disabled people should be properly managed and focused on those who need it most.

That is why we collectively agreed – you, No 10 and the Treasury – proposals which you and your Department then announced a week ago. Today we agreed not to proceed with the policies in their current form and instead to work together to get these policies right over the coming months.

In the light of this, I am puzzled and disappointed that you have chosen to resign.”

The resignation of a senior figure like Duncan Smith, a former party leader who opposes Britain’s membership of the European Union, will draw attention once more on the U.K. government’s precarious positon in parliament.

Cameron’s party has a House of Commons majority of just 17 seats and is a minority in the upper chamber, the House of Lords, making him vulnerable to rebellions from his own members.

Author Michael Sercan Daventry

Additional reporting by Ahmed J Versi of The Muslim News

 

[Photo: Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith. Photographer: Brian Minkoff – London Pixels/Creative Commons]

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