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Unite protests against UC cut as Labour forces vote in Parliament

Parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt

UNITE members demanded that Tory ministers “keep our families fed” as they protested today outside Parliament against next month’s cut to universal credit.

Demonstrators held up banners reading: “Food is not a luxury” as they urged MPs to back Labour’s push for the £20-a-week uplift to the benefit, introduced early in the Covid-19 pandemic, to be made permanent.

Labour’s non-binding opposition vote on the issue, which took place after the Morning Star went to press, comes as charities estimate that one million households will lose 10 per cent of their income if the cut goes ahead – with one in four children becoming even poorer.

About six million people in Britain rely on universak credit to get by, 40 per cent of whom are in work.

Speaking ahead of the protest, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is “making a deliberate and cruel decision to punish the country’s working poor.

“Many of them have worked right through the pandemic,” he said.

“Tory ministers and MPs will never be allowed to forget what they are doing to our children and communities.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Boris Johnson why he was “hammering” poorer, working people. Mr Johnson responded by claiming to be focused on getting people into work. 

Before the vote, shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Reynolds said he would challenge Conservative MPs “to do the right thing” and support the opposition motion.

“[Tory MPs] must choose between their blind loyalty to the Prime Minister and looking after their constituents,” he added. 

A Labour Party spokeswoman accused Mr Johnson of having “warped priorities” over his decision to launch a Cabinet reshuffle on the same afternoon as the vote.

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