THERESA MAY bizarrely claimed yesterday that Labour was “never” responsible for introducing the minimum wage.
The Prime Minister took credit for the national minimum wage that her predecessor David Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne rebranded as the national living wage.
The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 was passed by the previous Labour government. Despite no Tory MPs, including Ms May, voting for it at the time, they are now claiming it as their own policy.
During Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Ms May asked: “When did the Labour Party ever introduce a national living wage?”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn replied: “Labour introduced a minimum wage with opposition from the Tories.”
He then went on to slam Ms May over the 1 per cent public-sector pay cap, with Mr Corbyn highlighting reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond told a Cabinet meeting that public-sector workers were “overpaid.”
Ms May even praised these “overpaid” workers in the emergency services for their response to the recent terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire, with Labour MPs shouting “give them a pay rise.”
She then accused Mr Corbyn of “always talking Britain down” when defending her stance on the suppression of public-sector pay.
He asked her if she believed Mr Hammond was referring to her own ministers as being overpaid, before telling MPs: “The Conservatives have been in office for 84 months — 52 of those months have seen a real fall in wages and income in our country.”
She claimed that work is the best route out of poverty, in the face of statistics cited by Mr Corbyn that show 55 per cent of people living in poverty are part of households in which at least one person is in work.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell later responded to an Institute for Fiscal Studies living standards report which confirmed that working people are receiving wages lower than they were before the Tories came into power in 2010.
He added: “This is at the same time as official statistics show that wealth inequality has increased, with the wealth of the poorest falling while the wealth of those at the top has increased.
“Only Labour has a proper plan to raise working people’s living standards by delivering for the many, not the few, with the introduction of a real living wage of £10 an hour, scrapping the public-sector pay cap and reversing cuts to universal credit.”