Theresa May accuses opposition MPs of spreading ‘fake news’ on inequality
Theresa May today accused opposition MPs of spreading “fake news” about inequality, after a report found it had in fact reduced in the UK since the 2008 crash.
The Prime Minister echoed a claim by Tory backbencher Vicky Ford that those contradicting the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ findings were not debating on the basis of "true facts”.
Jeremy Corbyn regularly rails against the "grotesque inequality" in the UK which he has argued is getting worse.
But the influential thinktank found a boost in employment, alongside falls in income for middle and top earning households, had helped to lessen inequality since 2007/08.
Ms Ford urged the Prime Minister to back her call that the country be “governed by the true facts and not the fake news”.
“Not only has the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that we have the lowest income gap for a decade, but the Office for National Statistics has said that Britain has some of the lowest levels of persistent poverty in all of Europe,” she said at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mrs May responded: “She’s absolutely right. We owe it to our constituents, we owe it to the public that we ensure that when we debate these issues that we debate them on the basis of the facts and not on the sort of fake news that we hear all too often from being put forward in this chamber."
Earlier in the session, Mr Corbyn had said: "The PM has been in office for just on year and during that time disposable income has fallen by 2%, the economic consequences of austerity are very clear and so are the social consequences. Life expectancy stalling for the first time in 100 years,” he said.
“Today the IFS forecasts that income inequality is going to get worse and child poverty will rise to 5 million by 2022."
But Mrs may insisted the Labour leader was wrong, adding: "Inequality is down, life expectancy is continuing to rise...What will not deliver a strong economy is Labour's policies of more borrowing, more spending, higher taxes and fewer jobs."
The IFS cited another report that said inequality would start to rise if planned benefit cuts go ahead and earnings rise in line with government forecasts - but noted that any predictions are uncertain.