REFORM UK’s Ann Widdecombe has suggested that people claiming unemployment benefits should be made to fill labour shortages by picking fruit.
Speaking on Jeremy Vine on 5, the outspoken politician said: “I ask why it is that we’ve got 1.2 million people on the dole, and I do mean on the dole, on unemployment benefit. Some of them obviously wouldn’t be fit enough to work at fruit picking. But 1.2 million?”
“And the word that is always used is that our people aren’t ‘willing’ to pick. Now ‘willing’ doesn’t matter if you’re drawing public money – I think you should be made to pick.”
Widdecombe was also asked what she would advise people faced with the spiralling costs of basic food items, after BBC research revealed that the price of a homemade cheese sandwich has increased by a third in the past year, rising to around 40p.
On the Politics Live programme, the former MEP and long-serving member or parliament said: “You don’t do the cheese sandwich.
She added that there was no “given right” to low food prices and lamented how farmers would “constantly” complain to her about supermarket pricing when she was the Conservative MP for Maidstone.
“The only way this is going to be tackled is if inflation is going to come down,” Widdecombe said. “You will not get inflation coming down if you continue to have inflationary wage rises.“
“We just have to be as grown-up about this as we can and stop thinking it’s solely a UK problem, because it isn’t,” she added.