PM refuses to guarantee triple lock on pensions in last PMQs before election
Theresa May insisted that payments would continue to increase if the Tories win on June 8.
Theresa May has been accused of planning to ditch the triple lock protecting the value of state pensions, after she failed to guarantee it would feature in the Conservative manifesto.
Opposition parties said it was now clear that the Prime Minister was planning to raid pensions in order to pay for the costs of Brexit.
But Mrs May insisted that payments would continue to increase if the Tories win on June 8.
Mrs May sparred with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the last session of Prime Minister’s Questions before the General Election.
The encounter may be their last head-to-head clash, as Mrs May has refused to take part in televised leaders’ debates. And Labour indicated that Mr Corbyn would not debate on TV with other party leaders unless the Prime Minister was present.
In the House of Commons, the Labour leader attacked the Government over low pay, unaffordable housing and cuts to health and education.
And he turned the Prime Minister’s claim to offer “strong and stable leadership” against her, telling MPs she was only “strong against the weak”, but was “weak against the strong”.
Mrs May retorted that Mr Corbyn was “simply not up to the job” of leading Britain and would fail in his first duty of keeping the country safe.
The Prime Minister was put on the spot over pensions by Scottish National Party leader in Westminster Angus Robertson, who demanded to know whether she would keep the triple lock, which guarantees pensions will rise in line with inflation, average wages or 2.5% – whichever is the highest.
Mrs May replied: “I’ve been very clear that under this Conservative Government, we have seen pensioners benefit as a result of what we’ve done to the basic state pension to the tune of £1,250 a year.
“I am clear that under a Conservative government, pensioner incomes would continue to increase.”
Mr Robertson said pensioners would be “right to conclude that this Tory Prime Minister plans to ditch the triple lock on the state pension”.
He told MPs: “The only reason that they will not guarantee it is because they want to cut pensions. Is not the message to pensioners you cannot trust this Prime Minister, you cannot trust the Tories on your pension.”
Labour has already pledged to preserve the triple lock if it wins power, but the party’s election chair Andrew Gwynne said that under a Conservative administration “it risks being consigned to history”.
“While the Tories again proved they only care about the lucky few, Labour will build a Britain for the many,” said Mr Gwynne. “We will protect the incomes of 12 million pensioners across the UK by legislating to keep the triple lock.”
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman Baroness Kramer said: “Theresa May is preparing to raid pensions to pay for her hard Brexit. The Conservatives must clarify their position now to pensioners across the country.”