Gary Neville and Edwina Currie went head to head on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday while discussing cuts to Universal Credit.
The pair had been on the show to discuss the end of the £20 uplift which was brought in during the pandemic to help those on benefits through the lockdowns.
The extra £20 per week has been removed as of Wednesday, leading to fears that many of the 5.8million people in the UK who receive Universal Credit will now experience poverty as a result.
Discussing the impact of the cuts, former MP Edwina, 74, told Susanna Reid and Alastair Campbell: ‘What we have to realise is that we have something like a million vacancies being advertised in the country, we have record numbers of vacancies, we have whole industries desperate for people to come in to work – from catering to the care industry, food processing.
‘Businesses are actually desperate and pushing up wages and so it doesn’t make any kind of sense for us to pay people to stay home. What we really want is for people to get out there and get the jobs.’
Susanna interjected to point out: ‘Not everybody on Universal Credit doesn’t have a job. 40% of those on Universal Credit are already in work.’
Edwina continued: ‘The majority of people on Universal Credit don’t have a job and that’s where we can start. We’re talking about very large numbers of people.’
She added that there would be support and mentorship to help more people get into work, some for the first time, as well as to help rebuild the economy too.
The comments did not go down too well with former footballer Gary, 46, who responded: ‘Well, let me just translate what Edwina said for people up and down the country because it’s a message Conservative MPs have been entrenching in our minds for a long time.
‘The first thing that Edwina said was “I’m okay here, we’re okay here”, which is the first thing a Conservative person and MP does, they look after themselves.
‘The next thing she said was, “Go and get a job, get back to work you lazy sods. Get off your backsides, stop watching Good Morning Britain and other television programmes and go and get a job.”
‘It’s the way in which this sort of language appears from ministers for so long. You know: “Immigrants are all taking our jobs, homeless people are all beggars on the streets.” They’re basically alienating the people.’
‘They’re not there sitting and thinking “I’m going to take the Chancellor’s money and live off nothing and live off their money for the next 10 or 15 years and do nothing.”’
Delivering a damning blow, Gary added: ‘To me the language is always divisive, it’s not helpful. It’s really dangerous, we’re one team in this country, we’re one group of people.
‘Honestly, to remove Universal Credit payments at this moment in time is brutal. Let’s be clear, it is brutal.’
Viewers were impressed with Gary’s argument, but even Edwina was blown away by his speech as she told him he should go for a career in politics next.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays from 6am on ITV.
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