Shropshire Star

Party leaders questioned by Big Issue over ending poverty

The magazine’s vendors submitted questions for the interviews.

The front page of Big Issue magazine

The Labour leader has promised there will be no return to austerity if his party wins the General Election.

Sir Keir Starmer told the Big Issue magazine he will be as “bold as Atlee” if he becomes prime minister next month.

The four main party leaders, Conservative Rishi Sunak, Labour’s Sir Keir, the SNP’s John Swinney and Lib Dems’ Sir Ed Davey, were asked by the magazine how they would end poverty if elected on July 4, with Big Issue vendors pitching in with their own questions.

The Labour leader said: “I ran a public service during austerity, I saw the impact of the Tories’ decisions.

“There will be no return to austerity with a Labour government.

“We’ll have a decade of national renewal instead, with ambitious investment and reform.”

The Big Issue said that with 3.8 million people now living in destitution, unable to feed, clothe and keep themselves warm, each party leader was asked what they would do if they encountered a parent, in desperate need, stealing baby formula to feed their child.

“I’d offer to pay it,” said the Labour leader. “The desperation of families around the country should make the Tories feel nothing but shame.”

The Prime Minister said: “Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, and we’ll always support shopkeepers to prevent theft.

“At the same time, we will continue to help parents with the cost of living.”

Sir Ed Davey said: “I’d try to persuade [the parent] not to, obviously.

“Try and find them other help, that would be the best way of doing it.”

John Swinney said: “I’d discreetly offer to pay for the formula as no parent should ever have to face this situation.

“Sadly this is not hypothetical, I meet with my constituents, and people across Scotland, every week who face this kind of hardship.”

Asked how the parties would work to end poverty, the Prime Minister said:  “Work is the best way out of poverty, as Big Issue shows, and our welfare reforms have helped around four million more people move into work since 2010.”

The Labour leader promised an “ambitious, wide-ranging child poverty strategy” and that a Labour government will “give all children in primary school free breakfast, protect renters from arbitrary eviction, slash fuel poverty and ensure work is decent and secure for all.”

Big Issue vendor George Anderson from London asked Mr Sunak why the Tory Government has removed the increase in universal credit, and Josh Clarke from Bristol asked Sir Keir whether a Labour government would turn to abandoned buildings to house homeless people.

Mr Sunak was also asked whether he would rather have coffee with Sir Keir Starmer or Reform’s Nigel Farage, replying: “I’d rather have a coffee with [Big Issue founder] John Bird.”

– The full interviews are in this week’s Big Issue.

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