Labour MSP demands colleagues speak out as she hits out at Keir Starmer's refusal to repeal 'rape clause'

Monica Lennon said colleagues were “scared of deselection” and urged others to speak out.

Labour parliamentarians are “scared of deselection” should they speak out against party policy such as retaining the “abhorrent” rape clause, a former Scottish Labour leadership contender has said.

Monica Lennon urged her party colleagues to speak out against policies that were not “progressive and humane” after Sir Keir Starmer confirmed Labour would not scrap the so-called rape clause.

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The leader of UK Labour was asked following a speech on education policy whether he could confirm if it was Labour’s policy to scrap the policy.

Monica Lennon said colleagues must speak out against some of Labour's policies.Monica Lennon said colleagues must speak out against some of Labour's policies.
Monica Lennon said colleagues must speak out against some of Labour's policies.

The rape clause is an exemption to the two-child benefit cap for women who have had children following sexual assault, but it requires women to disclose they were raped to be eligible for the exemption.

It was brought in by David Cameron’s Government and applies to children born after April 6, 2017, alongside exemptions for parents who have twins or triplets.

Sir Keir was asked: “Recently the shadow work and pensions secretary [Jonathan Ashworth] called the two child benefit cap 'heinous' and suggested Labour will scrap it. Can you confirm if that is Labour's policy?"

The responded: “That isn't our policy and if it changes, I'll let you know."

Ms Lennon, who lost the Scottish Labour leadership contest to Anas Sarwar before the last Holyrood election, said the rape clause must be scrapped. She called on her party colleagues to speak out against the Labour leader’s decision to keep the clause.

The MSP for Central Scotland said: “I know colleagues are scared of deselection, being exiled to backbenches, or not winning selections, but if we don’t speak out, then who will?

“The two-child benefit cap (aka the rape clause) is abhorrent and must be scrapped. UK Labour policies must be progressive and humane.”

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Speaking to The Scotsman, Ms Lennon said it was time for Sir Keir to align with Scottish Labour on the scrapping of the rape clause. She said: “Scottish Labour has consistently campaigned against the Tories two-child cap, which punishes parents for having more children.

“Under this system the only way to receive the financial support that you need is to prove that any additional children were conceived through rape. We have always said that policies that force rape victims to relieve their trauma are shameful and wrong.

“It’s why Scottish Labour MSPs campaigned for the Scottish Government to take action to mitigate the impacts, and it’s why we need a UK Labour government that will scrap these abhorrent practices once and for all.”

The Scottish Government mitigates the benefit cap and devolved social security benefits are not subject to the two-child limit and rape clause.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said the policy was an example of Labour becoming “more and more indistinguishable from the Tories”.

He said: “Sir Keir Starmer's failure to commit to abolishing the cruel and callous two-child benefit cap will have shocked voters right across these isles, leaving many wondering what the Labour Party actually stand for.

"It is incumbent on both Sir Keir and Anas Sarwar to confirm that a future Labour UK government would scrap this callous and cruel policy on day one.

"Failure to do so will confirm that Labour aren't offering real change – they are only offering to copy disgraceful Tory policies."

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