Philip Hammond 'not fit for office' after dismissing scale of poverty crisis, says Shadow Chancellor

Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said his Tory counterpart Philip Hammond is unfit for office after he denied the scale of poverty under his watch.

Philip Hammond, who replaced George Osborne in the Treasury, told BBC Newsnight he rejected the idea that millions of Brits were living in dire poverty.

His comments follow a damning indictment of the government's austerity programme by the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty Professor Philip Alston.

Professor Alston concluded that the programme of cutssince 2010 have led to "tragic consequences".

"The bottom line is that much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos," he said.

Independent analysis estimates some 2million people face destitution in the UK and regularly have to face a choice between eating or paying to warm their home.

Responding to Hammond's remarks, John McDonnell said: Multi-millionaire Hammond lives in a different world to the rest of us. He displays a brutal complacency about the scale of poverty and human suffering his austerity programme has created.

“Heartless, without compassion or any sense of humanity, after these remarks he demonstrates he is not fit to hold office and should consider his position.

“It’s not just the United Nations: Human Rights Watch and others have commented on the poverty and inequality under this government. Meanwhile Philip Hammond’s colleagues compete with each other to promise more tax cuts, showing how utterly out of touch the Conservatives are with the problems of today’s society.”

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