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WES STREETING has admitted to having “lost his moral compass” when he abstained from voting against the Tory government’s notorious Welfare Bill.
The Ilford North Labour MP told a Progress rally at the Labour Party conference that he was one of the many MPs who were “not brave enough” to oppose the Conservatives over benefit cuts in 2015.
At the event at the Museum of Liverpool last night, he said: “I don’t believe much in regrets, but there is one vote alone in the last three years in Parliament that I regret.”
Only 48 Labour MPs voted against the Bill. They included Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon, Jeremy Corbyn, Sadiq Khan, David Lammy, Dennis Skinner, the late Michael Meacher and John McDonnell, who said he would even “swim through vomit” to oppose it.
Mr Streeting said he had “compromised” his initial intention to rebel against interim leader Harriet Harman’s order to abstain after Labour was given a reasoned amendment on the Bill that its MPs mistakenly believed would have allowed the legislation to be derailed later on.
“And I’m afraid the rest is history,” he added. “It wasn’t just that we lost our nerve, I’m afraid that we lost our moral compass.”
The Bill, introduced by then work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, lowered the household welfare cap from £26,000 to £23,000, abolished legally binding child poverty targets, made cuts to child tax credits and benefits for people with long-term disabilities and illnesses and ended young people’s entitlement to housing benefit.
The Greens, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists also voted against the Bill.
Despite his belated change of heart, Mr Streeting went on to mock the resurgent Labour left, sneering that he had joined the party to “change the world and not the minutes of the last meeting.”
Walthamstow Labour MP Stella Creasy also ranted about proposals backed by grassroots pro-Corbyn group Momentum to democratise the party by making it easier for members to stand as a parliamentary candidates against sitting MPs.
Complaining that Momentum activists wanted to deselect her, she dismissed them as “absolute melts,” using an insult drawn from contemporary youth slang.
Ms Creasy also branded the group “toxic” and likened it to corrupt companies that carry out “back-room deals.”
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