Demonstrators in wheelchairs blockade House of Commons in protest at disability cuts

Benjamin Kentish,Ashley Cowburn
Wednesday 19 July 2017 14:09 BST
The protest took place in Central Lobby, pictured here during the State Opening of Parliament
The protest took place in Central Lobby, pictured here during the State Opening of Parliament (Getty Images)

Protesters in wheelchairs have attempted to blockade the entrance to the House of Commons in protest at cuts to disability benefits.

The demonstration took place as MPs attempted to exit the chamber following Prime Minister's Questions. Eight people in wheelchairs positioned themselves in front of the doors into the Commons.

They chanted "no justice, no peace" and demanded to speak with MPs, saying they were campaigning aganist cuts to social care and the Independent Living Fund.

Two of the protesters, who are believed to be part of the Disabled People Against Cuts group, began chanting "Ohh Jeremy Corbyn" as the Labour leader walked past.

The protest took place in Parliament's Central Lobby, in front of doors that lead to the Commons chamber. There are other routes to the chamber, meaning MPs were still about to get in and out of the room.

Police formed a protective cordon as protesters chanted: "This is a message to Theresa May: while we have no justice, you will have no peace" and "No more deaths from benefit cuts".

46-year-old Paula Peters, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) told The Independent she was in the Palace of Westminster to protest against the closure of the Independent Living Fund in 2015.

"Many disabled people with high support needs have had their care packages cut between 20 to 60 per cent and are facing a bleak future in residential care or imprisoned at home, excluded from society,” she said.

“I tell this Government now, disabled people will fight for their rights till the last person in their wheelchair to the last disabled person in this country. We are being treated horrifically under this Government. We have borne the brunt of austerity nine times more than any other group."

Asked what was the aim of blocking the Commons entrance, she responded: “Our rights were never handed to us. We fought for our rights.

"We are doing this kind of action to raise awareness of what this Government is doing to disabled people in the UK. We want the world to know what the UK Government is doing to disabled people. In the 21st century, the fifth richest country on earth – they are killing disabled people in large numbers. Our rights are being eroded. We want that to stop.

"We don’t take this action lightly. We feel we have no choice by a Government that is refusing to listen to us, is not interested in listening to us, who just wants to keep cutting and cutting and cutting until there is nothing left to cut.

“Theresa May had her magic money tree for the DUP… we say enough. We want this stop."

A second campaigner, Victoria, a 29-year-old with disc degenerative disease and epilepsy, echoed the comments regarding the Prime Minister’s deal with the Northern Ireland party in a bid to cling to power following the general election last month.

“At the moment, obviously, the fact of all this money given to the DUP at the moment when we were told about a ‘magic money tree’, she said. "Yet they have been taking money away from disabled people”.

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