Sir Keir Starmer is facing criticism for within his own ranks after he refused to reverse the Conservative’s two-child benefit cap if Labour wins the next election.
The Labour leader has been told he must “put people first” after he said a government led by him would not scrap the two-child benefit cap.
Appearing on the BBC on Sunday, Keir Starmer was pressed on whether Labour would scrap the policy – described as “heinous” by his own shadow work and pensions.
But he insisted: “We are not changing that policy.”
Instead he said he wanted to replicate the last Labour government which had “grown the economy and had tens of billions of pounds more to spend on our public services”.
He told the BBC: “That’s what I want to replicate – to grow our economy so we’ve got that yield to put into our public services.
“But that has to start with responsible economics and it has to be coupled with reform.”
Responding to his comments, North East Scotland MSP Mercedes Villalba said scrapping the limit is what the country expects.
She pointed to a pledge by Sir Keir to end the policy – which limits the number of children parents can claim child benefit for – during his campaign for leader.
Ms Villalba said: “Keir Starmer was elected leader of the Labour Party on a pledge to scrap the two child limit.
“It’s what Labour members want, it’s what the public expects, and it’s what the country needs.
“Labour must be a party of principle that puts the people first.”
Critics have accused Sir Keir of being too timid in creating a clear dividing line between the Conservatives and a possible Labour government.
A Scottish Labour insider told The Courier that his refusal to promise an end to the two-child benefit cap in particular would hurt the party in Scotland.
They said: “Keir needs to be more ambitious. Labour can’t win without Scotland and right now he’s writing the SNP attack lines.”
SNP brand Labour refusal ‘shameful’
Asked whether he is relaxed about being called a “fiscal conservative”, Sir Keir replied: “I don’t mind what label people put on me. I do want to make my argument.
“My argument is this: What was absolutely plain from last year’s mini-budget is if you lose control of the economy it’s working people who pay.”
SNP social justice spokesman David Linden MP said it is “shameful” Labour would continue the “cruel” policy.
He said: “People in Scotland are increasingly asking ‘what is the point in the Labour Party?’ if all it does is copy failed Tory policies, impose Brexit and make devastating cuts against Scotland’s will.
“Unlike Starmer, the SNP is absolutely clear we oppose the two-child cap – and with the full powers of independence we would scrap it.”