New suicide prevention minister criticised for 'rather jump off Beachy Head' remark
Theresa May’s newly-appointed suicide prevention minister has been criticised after it was revealed she once joked that she would rather jump off Beachy Head than join Ukip.
Jackie Doyle-Price’s new role was announced by the Prime Minister in a bid to reduce the stigma around mental illness and to give parity of esteem between it and physical health.
But the junior health minister already faces a backlash over a 2014 remark saying she would prefer to jump off the Sussex cliff - which is known for its high number of suicides - than join the Eurosceptic party.
When asked whether she could follow her ex-Tory colleague Douglas Carswell in defecting, she told the Thurrock Gazette: “I would sooner jump off Beachy Head than join Ukip."
The embarrassing comments resurfaced just hours after her appointment and as parties across the House marked World Mental Health Day.
Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman was among those to hit out at the quip, saying: “Any comment which increases stigma or disrespect or lack of understanding for mental health issues related to depression or suicide are completely inappropriate.”
A spokesman for the Prime Minister batted away the criticism of Ms Doyle-Price, however, saying: “There is a serious job that she will be taking forward here and it is a very important new position.
“She will have access to some of the nearly £12bn that we already spend on mental health in this country and will want to ensure that services improve further.”