Boris Johnson’s choice for rough sleeping role thinks homelessness is ‘a choice’
- Credit: Archant
Labour has slammed Boris Johnson's choice of rough sleeping tsar after he said 'many people choose to be on the streets'.
Shadow housing minister Sarah Jones said the government "is in denial about the root causes of homelessness" after minister Robert Jenrick announced his parliamentary private secretary, Tory MP Adam Holloway, is helping to "tackle the big questions of our age".
Jones said that choosing someone who says "many people choose to be on the streets" was unacceptable.
Speaking in the Commons chamber she said: "Perhaps that's why the Housing Secretary chose to appoint someone as his PPS (parliamentary private secretary), with specific responsibility for rough sleeping, who thinks that sleeping rough is a lifestyle choice, who claimed many people choose to be on the streets and that it's more comfortable than going on exercise in the army.
"That is particularly insulting to hundreds of our armed forces veterans who are sleeping rough, who this government has abandoned despite their years of service to this country."
You may also want to watch:
In previous debates on homelessness, Gravesham MP Holloway spoke about the time he spent on the streets in 1991 and again in 2018 to learn more about the problems faced by those sleeping rough.
Last month, he advocated treating rough sleeping as a health issue and said "the reality is that many people choose to be on the streets".
- 1 The bigot we should have called out on day one
- 2 Nigel Farage launches new party in Scotland to promote 'positive case for the Union'
- 3 The greatest failure of government in our lifetime
- 4 Matt Hancock praises free school meals before being reminded he voted against them
- 5 Brexit changes lead to exodus of Brits from Spain, UK nationals claim
- 6 The worryingly familiar signs for Britain's vaccine roll-out
- 7 Brexiteer MP ridiculed after calling for free movement of goods between GB and NI
- 8 Fears government could scrap workers' rights in post-Brexit overhaul of labour laws
- 9 Keir Starmer got it right with vote on Brexit deal
- 10 Katie Hopkins joins UKIP in time for leadership contest
And in a 2018 debate, the former army captain described his own experience of sleeping on London's streets as a "lot more comfortable" than going on exercise in the forces.
Responding to Jones, Jenrick said: "I'd politely point out that he spent over five months in the last few years sleeping rough on the streets of London, of Birmingham, of New York City.
"I don't know, perhaps I'm mistaken, I don't know if the honourable lady has done that. I don't know if any other Member of this House has spent so much time with members of our homeless population.
"And I know for a fact he has members of staff in his office in this House who he has mentored off the streets and into a better life.
"He does sometimes asked 'unacceptable questions', as George Orwell would say. But you have to ask unacceptable questions sometimes if we, as politicians, want to tackle the big questions of our age.
"And if we want to tackle rough sleeping, we have to tackle addiction as well."
Earlier, in a statement, Jenrick told MPs that, overall, the number of rough sleepers had fallen by 9% in the past year.
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.