Labour Party Revolts against Acting Leader over Welfare Policy

Harman, the acting leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, gives a speech on the party's future and it's leadership contest, in London
REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The Labour Party suffered an embarrassing split on Monday when about a fifth of its MPs defied its interim leader’s call not to oppose government plans to cut welfare payments.

In his first post-election budget this month, Chancellor George Osborne set out 12 billion pounds of welfare savings aimed at helping rebalance the public finances, including sharply restricting access to an expensive tax credits system which tops up the earnings of workers on low incomes.

Labour, which in May suffered its worst election defeat since 1987, is in the midst of a soul searching debate about its future direction as it grapples with the reasons for its loss and seeks a new leader.

Interim Labour leader Harriet Harman, who took over after Ed Miliband stepped down following the election, had faced a backlash after recommending the party’s MPs abstain from a vote on the welfare cuts in parliament on Monday.

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