Boris Johnson told MPs the government’s so-called “rape clause” is an “injustice” that must be rectified.
The Prime Minister surprised spectators in the House of Commons with his remarks as the government has firmly defended his policy, which is tied to the 2017 reforms to limit tax credits to the first two children in a family.
A clause in the rules means women who have a third child as a result of rape can be exempted – but would have to provide evidence to do so, a move heavily criticized by activists.
Speaking on Prime Minister’s Questions, Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said: âThe Prime Minister supports the absolutely horrible rape clause in the child tax credit rules.
“Why does he think it is fair that 200 mothers have to prove to the government that their child was conceived as a result of rape so that they can keep their child tax credits?”
Mr Johnson, in his response, said: “On his point on benefit recipients, he draws attention to an injustice and we will do all we can to correct it.”
Mr Corbyn replied: ‘I hope this means the Prime Minister will introduce regulations to end the two-child policy in the benefit strategy because that is exactly what happens when women who are raped must prove that they were raped in order to obtain benefits for their child.
Ministers have repeatedly faced calls to drop the policy of limiting tax credits to the first two children in a family.
SNP MK Alison Thewliss, a longtime activist to end the ‘rape clause’, wrote on Twitter: ‘I guess he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The two-child limit and the rape clause stigmatize, impoverish and must be removed. “
Mr Corbyn also raised concerns about the life expectancy rates of the poorest women in society, funding to tackle domestic violence and asked Mr Johnson to apologize for his comments “offensive” on women.
Regarding life expectancy, Mr Johnson said it has increased overall before adding: “It is absolutely true that there are too many cases and too many parts of the country where we are seeing life expectancy. not increase as we would like, and it’s true there are parts of this country where one in 50 pregnant women smoke and parts of the country where one in four pregnant women smoke.
“What we want to see is unity and leveling across this whole country.”
Mr Johnson then defended government funding for health care.
In his final comments, Mr Corbyn said: âThe Prime Minister has made repeated offensive remarks against single mothers and their children. He described them as rude, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate.
âAgainst Muslim women, saying they looked like bank robbers. Against working women, suggest that the best way to deal with a colleague’s advice is to simply “pat her butt and kick her back.”
âWords have consequences. Her offensive remarks are backed up by offensive and discriminatory policies, from the rape clause to the dismantling of local services that women, especially BAME and women with disabilities, disproportionately rely on.
“Can the Prime Minister apologize for his offensive remarks and ensure that these discriminatory policies are overturned by his government?”
Mr Johnson said he was “proud” of the government’s record in promoting women’s rights, the number of women MPs in his party and that the Tories have had two female prime ministers.
He said of Labor: âWouldn’t it be an amazing and amazing thing if this party produced a woman leader? Don’t hold your breath, Mr. President.
“I will not take any lesson in sexism from a party where good women parliamentarians are kicked out of their party simply because they have had the courage to speak out against the climate of anti-Semitism within the Labor Party.”