Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng treated British people like 'lab rats', says …

Lisa Nandy has accused Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng of treating the British people like "lab rats" in a fiery commons speech about their severance pay.

The former PM and chancellor had been entitled to thousands in redundancy pay despite being in office for a very short time indeed, so the Labour party forced a motion about the matters in the commons about it, calling for the pair to return at least £6000 because of their handling of the economy.

All ministers are eligible for a redundancy payment after leaving office and former prime minister Truss would have got £18,860, about £365 for each day she was in charge, while Kwarteng could have received £16,876 for his 38-day tenure as chancellor.

But the motion passed because the Tories abstained, so they will have to pay some back, but there was still a big clash about the issue in parliament in which Nandy also called the payments "obscene" and "abhorrent".

She said: "I was astonished to see the former Chancellor, recently give an interview in which he said that the only thing that the Government had got wrong was not to explain themselves properly. That is absolutely disgraceful. We are giving government members the chance to set this right today and to show whose side they are on. Are they on the side of the people they put in office, who walked away with ministerial severance payments and profited from the crisis that they caused, or are they on the side of working people, who are currently paying the price?"

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After Tory MP Gareth Bacon cheekily asked if there were any Labour ministers who refused severance pay in 2010, when they were voted out of office, Nandy hit back. She replied: "How many times did we see in 44 days, the former Prime Minister and Chancellor essentially use the security of people in this country as an experiment? They treated us as lab rats for their ideology. They crashed the economy and left working people to pay the price."

She added: "Honestly, a bit of humility from government members would be in order. The situation is unprecedented. They have been in office for 12 years.

"They put two people in office... who were fundamentally unsuitable for the role. They supported them, backed them to the hilt and stood up from the government benches and supported every move that they made. They cheered as the mini-Budget was announced and they still do not have the humility to apologise for the damage that they have inflicted on families up and down the country. The Chancellor may have U-turned, the new Prime Minister may have admitted that mistakes were made, and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities may have apologised for the error of his party’s ways, but apologies do not cut it.

"The Government have a clear choice today: they can stand up for people whose hopes and dreams have been shattered, or they can stand with a former Prime Minister and former Chancellor who have profited from a situation that will leave families across this country paying the price for years to come."

She added that the amount the pair were entitled to was "more than many of my constituents earn in an entire year."

"They would have some brass neck to pocket that much for a job so atrociously done," she said.

"It is abhorrent that someone can become Prime Minister of this country with the backing of only 80,000 people who are all Conservative party members, and then appoint a Chancellor, jointly crash the economy, cost hard-working families hundreds of pounds every month for years on end, and walk away scot-free with a severance payment worth thousands in their back pocket. To quote the former Prime Minister, that is a disgrace."

In response, Lucy Frazer, a levelling up minister said that "mistakes have been made" but blamed the war in Ukraine and the pandemic for the economic situation.

She added: "Payments connected to the loss of ministerial office are defined in legislation that has been passed by parliament and been in effect for successive administrations. Ministerial changes and departures are part of the fabric of government. All administrations experience them and they are a routine part of the operation of government."

It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here.

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