Hated ex-minister wades into EU debate while Blairite In campaigner Alan Johnson brands opponents “extremists”
BEDROOM TAX architect Iain Duncan Smith claimed yesterday that inequality will increase dramatically unless Britain leaves the European Union.
The former Tory leader now posing as a champion of the poor argued that Brussels has become “a friend of the haves rather than the have-nots.”
But Labour and the unions said his claims would be taken with a heavy pinch of salt, given his record of axing benefits while he was work and pensions secretary.
In a speech at Vote Leave’s headquarters in London, Mr Duncan Smith said: “The EU, particularly for the UK, has become a force for social injustice and leaving provides a vital opportunity for us to be able to develop policies that will protect the people who often find themselves at the sharp end of global economic forces and technological change.
“Despite its grand early intentions, (the EU) has become a friend of the haves rather than the have-nots.”
But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady hit back, saying: “This is the man who cut tax credits, who cut disability benefits and who pushed half a million more children into absolute poverty.
“So we will take no lessons on social justice from the minister for foodbanks.”
Labour pointed out that Mr Duncan Smith opposed the introduction of the minimum wage as well as the few social protections offered by the EU.
In his maiden speech to Parliament in 1992, he praised the Tories’ commitment to “securing our exclusion from the social chapter” and has even suggested the working time directive could lead to “turmoil on the streets.”
It was separately revealed that Aaron Banks, the founder of the Leave.EU campaign, told a meeting in Washington last week: “If it were up to me, I’d privatise the NHS.”
Britain Stronger In also found themselves in hot water yesterday after Alan Johnson, leading Labour’s In campaign, branded those in favour of leaving the EU as “extremists.”
He was criticised too for describing the £350 million a week Britain sends to Brussels as a “drop in the ocean.”
Labour MP and Vote Leave chair Gisela Stuart said: “The Remain campaign wants the elites to have more power and money, and not to give back control to the British people. Patients struggling to get care on the NHS will rightly think that they are completely out of touch when they claim that £350m — enough to build a new hospital every week — is just a drop in the ocean.”