Monday 4 November 2019 / 8:09 AM Ian Lavery

Conservatives’ defence of candidate who said people on benefits should be “put down” reveals their contempt for the less well off

Speaking on the Today programme this morning, DWP Secretary Thérèse Coffey made clear that the Conservatives would ignore calls for Francesca O’Brien to be removed as a Parliamentary candidate.

The Conservative candidate for Gower wrote on social media that people on Benefits Street needed “putting down”.

Ian Lavery MP, Labour Party Chair, said:

“Removing a candidate who used such vile language about people on benefits should be a no brainer.

“The cuts to benefits and Universal Credit programme that Thérèse Coffey and her party are responsible for have forced people into poverty.

“It is shameful that Boris Johnson is allowing Francesca O’Brien to stand for his party in Gower. This reveals the Conservatives’ contempt for the less well off.”



Notes to Editors:

Transcript of Thérèse Coffey‘s Today Interview

JW: When you say you’re being positive, can I put to you a comment from one of your candidates, your candidate for Gower, Francesca O’Brien. This is your area, benefits. She wrote on her Facebook page in 2014 that people in the reality TV show Benefits street needed ‘putting down’. Should she be a candidate for the party or not?

TC: Well hearing that, what she said is clearly wrong, clearly wrong. I’m led to believe it was early in 2014, I don’t know Francesca at all, she has apologised I’ve been told. That is important, and I recognise that these comments are not ones with which I would associate myself in any way.

JW: Should she stand?

TC: But I think that will be a decision for the people of Gower to make on who they want to be their next Member of Parliament.

JW: Right, so if they decide that she should stand you’re happy for her to stand.

TC: I think it’s a matter for the people of Gower whether they want her to be their next MP and she will have that choice next month.