Philip Hammond under fire after 'there are no unemployed people' gaffe

Posted On: 
19th November 2017

Labour have torn into Philip Hammond after he said "there are no unemployed people" in the UK. 

Philip Hammond on the Andrew Marr Show this morning Philip Hammond on the Andrew Marr Show this morning
BBC One/Andrew Marr Show

The Chancellor's gaffe came as he tried to explain that introducing driverless cars would not necessarily have an impact on employment, even though hundreds of thousands of Britons are employed as drivers.

In a piece for the Sun on Sunday, Mr Hammond said his upcoming Budget would include plans for the UK to be a "world leader" in the new technology

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Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, he compared fears over the new technology with the worries over the advent of personal computers a generation ago.

"We have to embrace change in this country and we have to ensure that our people have the skills and capabilities and tools they need to be able to evolve, to learn new skills, to take up new skills," he said.

"I remember 20 years ago, we were worrying about what was going to happen to the million shorthand typists when the personal computer took over.

"Well, where are all the unemployed people? There are no unemployed people. We have created 3.4 million new jobs since 2010. This economy has become a jobs factory, constantly reinventing."

"Of course, unemployment is at a record low, the lowest it's been since 1970. We've got a remarkable record of creating new jobs and we're getting people into work at a remarkable rate."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who was a guest on the same show, immediately seized on the remarks from his opposite number.

Mr Hammond backtracked later in the interview when it was suggested he had "forgotten" the over 1.4m Britons who are currently out of work.

"They haven't been forgotten by this government," he replied. 

"We're focused on getting them into work, it was the last Labour government that abandoned and ignored them and dumped them on welfare. We've reformed the welfare system and worked with people to make sure work always pays."