Theresa May grimaces when journalist accuses her of Brexit causing wage squeeze

Prime Minister denies admitting exit from EU to blame for workers' financial struggles

Harriet Agerholm
Wednesday 17 May 2017 12:53
Theresa May grimaces after being told she admitted Brexit was to blame for people's problems

Theresa May grimaced when it was put to her that Brexit had caused a squeeze on wages.

On the campaign trail at a depot in Stoke-on-Trent, the Prime Minister was confronted by employee Zia Karim, a father of five who takes home £300 a week, Sky News reported.

He said that a 2.7 per cent rise in inflation in the three months to March had left him struggling to provide for his family. Wages over that period only rose 1.9 per cent.

Theresa May grimaces during press conference

A journalist later put it to her that she had confessed the vote to leave the EU was making lives harder for low-earners, at which point she made the facial expression.

"You admitted to [Mr Karim] that Brexit was partly to blame for his family’s struggles and you also said there would be a couple of years of uncertainty," Beth Rigby said.

"Do you now say there will be a squeeze on the cost of living for workers until Brexit is complete?"

Ms May denied saying Brexit was responsible for Mr Karim's financial struggles, although she did not say whether she agreed there would be increased strain on the finances of workers until the Brexit process was finished.

"I did say that we had of course seen an impact on inflation from changed to the currency over the last gew month," Ms May said.

"And that, as everybody knows, we’re going to a negotiation on Brexit over the next two years and the final deal, that special relationship, special partnership that we want to build with Europe will be for those negotiations."

Ms May pointed to the Conservative manifesto promise to cap energy bills as one way her party was protecting low-earners.

Mr Hammond insisted the increased interest rate would pass. “Yes of course we have some inflation passing through the economy," he said. "But this will be transient, it’s a result of currency movements last year.”

During the conference, Ms May twice failed to confirm that Mr Hammond would stay as Chancellor if the Conservatives returned to government after 8 June.

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