- Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party refuse to sack candidate who said people on the reality TV show Benefits Street need “putting down.”
- The Conservative candidate for Gower, Francesca O’Brien, made a series of inflammatory social media posts about people featured on the programme.
- Labour have called for her to be replaced as the candidate.
- However, the Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday that O’Brien would remain as the Conservative’s candidate.
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Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party have refused to sack a candidate who said that people on the reality TV show Benefits Street need “putting down.”
Francesca O’Brien, who has been selected to fight the target seat of Gower in Wales, wrote a series of inflammatory posts on Facebook in 2014 about residents on the programme, which documented people living on welfare payments.
“Benefit Street..anyone else watching this?? Wow, these people are unreal!!!” she wrote in posts which have since been deleted, adding that “My blood is boiling, these people need putting down.”
She went on to endorse a reply to her posts, suggesting that they should have a “twat a tramp Tuesday” and “take your batts [sic] to the streets”.
Following the posts, O’Brien replied that “I’m liking that idea… haha, made me laugh!”
Asked whether O’Brien would be removed as the candidate, the Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey MP told the BBC on Monday that while O’Brien’s comment were “clearly wrong,” it was now a “matter for the people of Gower.”
“I recognise these comments are not ones that I would associate myself with in any way, but I think that will be a decision for the people of Gower to make a choice on who they want to be their member of parliament,” she said.
Pushed again, she replied: “I think that is a matter for the people of Gower on whether they want her to be their next MP and they will have that choice next month.”
The opposition Labour party described Johnson’s refusal to remove O’Brien as “shameful.”
“Removing a candidate who used such vile language about people on benefits should be a no brainer,” Ian Lavery MP, Labour Party Chair, said.
“The cuts to benefits and Universal Credit programme that Thérèse Coffey and her party are responsible for have forced people into poverty.
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“It is shameful that Boris Johnson is allowing Francesca O’Brien to stand for his party in Gower. This reveals the Conservatives’ contempt for the less well off.”
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