Pro-Tax Credit Cuts and Anti-Minimum Wage: Theresa May Heads Straight to Downing St
THERESA MAY opposed the introduction of the minimum wage, backed cuts to tax credits and voted against action to combat tax avoidance, Labour warned yesterday after she was crowned Tory leader and the next prime minister.
Ms May was handed victory in the Conservative leadership contest by default following the shock withdrawal of her only rival, Andrea Leadsom.
It means that on Wednesday she will become the first woman in Downing Street since Margaret Thatcher, despite having a mandate to lead the country from just 199 MPs.
Ms May’s rapid elevation came on the day she attempted to distance herself from the divisive record left by David Cameron.
Speaking in Birmingham, the current Home Secretary vowed to put her party “at the service” of working people and create a “country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.”
Her headline pledge was to put workers on the boards of major firms, which was welcomed by TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, who said it would “inject a much-needed dose of reality into boardrooms.”
She also vowed to give shareholders power to curb excess corporate pay and crack down on tax avoidance, saying: “It is not anti-business to suggest that big business needs to change.”
Writing in the Times, she also criticised Mr Cameron for increasing VAT, complained that energy bills have “rocketed” and pointed out that “some find themselves exploited by unscrupulous bosses.”
But opponents pointed out that her progressive posturing was undermined by her own parliamentary voting record and central role in the Tory Cabinet.
After being elected MP for Maidenhead in 1997, Ms May campaigned against the introduction of the minimum wage, claiming the “choice is between people losing their job or keeping it at a lower wage.”
When the Tories took power in 2010, one of her first acts as minister for women and equalities was to scrap the legal requirement for public bodies to try to reduce inequalities caused by class disadvantage, branding it “ridiculous.”
More recently, she has voted against motions calling on the government to tackle tax avoidance, against an energy price freeze and in favour of cuts to tax credits which would have left working families £1,300 a year worse off.
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said: “Let’s be under no illusions. Theresa May has been part of a government that has cut taxes for millionaires while putting up VAT, and has failed to reform the fundamental weaknesses in our economy, including cracking down properly on tax avoidance.
“People will judge her on her actions, not her words. The truth is Theresa May will offer nothing new for working people, just more of the same failed policies.”
SNP MSP Clare Haughey, a former Unison rep, said Ms May had been an “enthusiastic member of the most anti-worker UK government in generations.”
She added: “The Tory government is engaged in a relentless and sustained assault on the most basic workers’ rights, forcing through some legislation which even Margaret Thatcher didn’t dare to try — and Theresa May won’t be allowed to forget the fact that she was sitting around the table as each and every one of these regressive, anti-worker decisions was made.”
The Lib Dems, Green Party and Plaid Cymru all called for Ms May to hold a snap general election.
Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “It is unacceptable that the next person to hold the top job in British politics is appointed by 60 per cent of Tory MPs. A general election is the only democratic way forward.”