Chancellor Sajid Javid admitted he has never donated to a food bank as he visited a key marginal seat in Yorkshire in a last-ditch bid to win over floating voters.
Sajid Javid visited Dinnington, part of the Labour-held constituency of Rother Valley, as the Conservatives continued their efforts to win a majority in the final days before the General Election on Thursday.
He was campaigning with Conservative candidate Alex Stafford, who is bidding to overturn a 3,882-vote Labour majority in the seat formerly held by veteran MP Sir Kevin Barron. Mr Javid later toured a housing development in Hull West and Hessle, which is held by Labour’s Emma Hardy with an 8,000 majority.
When asked about food banks during his visit to South Yorkshire, Mr Javid said: “I have not given to a foodbank personally.
“I don’t want to see food banks anywhere in Britain or any country. The way to reduce poverty is to make sure we keep a growing economy that creates jobs.
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“We want enough opportunities so no matter where you live in this country, there’s enough opportunities for everyone. We are on the side of businesses, creating highly paid and highly skilled jobs.”
Mr Javid was asked whether previous Chancellors George Osborne should have made such deep cuts with austerity and whether Phillip Hammond should have ended it sooner.
“What we talk about with austerity is the government having to reduce the economy so we can start growing again and being on the side of businesses.
“Going back to 2010 we had to take action to repair the huge damage that the Labour government had done.
“Every Labour government has left us with an economic crisis and we worked hard with people to repair it, otherwise we would be paying a much heavier price.”
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Later in the afternoon, the Chancellor had a brief tour of the new Wykeland Beal housing development in the Fruit Market area in Hull, before attending a private business roundtable.
Although the city has been a Labour stronghold for 84 years, there was a 67.8 per cent vote in favour of leaving the European Union.
Mr Javid was asked what Labour could offer a deprived city like Hull, where life expectancy rates for men and women are falling.
Mr Javid said he “didn’t want to see” life expectancy rates fall, but claimed the economy had grown stronger under the Conservatives, with “nine years of consecutive growth” and higher employment.
He said people in the North East were “fed up with paralysis in Parliament.
He added: “They want the country to move forward with Brexit, to get on, so the Government can focus on other priorities, the NHS, policing and schools and people know you pay for that by keeping the economy strong.”
The Northern Powerhouse Partnership has called on senior leaders from each of the main parties to come and speak to the North and address the issues that matter to the 15m people living here.
Director Henri Murison said: “This election offers our political parties a golden opportunity no government in living memory has achieved – to rebalance the UK economy, capturing a trillion-pound economic gain for the country over the coming decades.”