When even John Redwood won’t defend a right-wing Tory minister you know something is wrong.
This afternoon the Tory ‘headbanger’ was asked about comments by the minister George Freeman, who dismissed the plight of disabled people with mental health problems last night.
Freeman told BBC Radio 5Live last night:
These tweaks are actually about rolling back some bizarre decisions by tribunals that now mean benefits are being given to people who are taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety. We want to make sure we get the money to the really disabled people who need it.
He later offered a half-apology on Twitter.
This afternoon, in a discussion over disability payments, Redwood was asked three times about his views.
Jo Coburn: Was it acceptable for George Freeman to say it [disability payments] shouldn’t go to people taking pills at home who suffer from anxiety.
John Redwood: As I understand it, George has said he didn’t mean any harm by that.
Jo Coburn: He didn’t mean any harm but he didn’t actually retract what he said.
John Redwood: Well, you must talk to him, they weren’t my words.
Jo Coburn: No, but I’m asking you for your reaction to those words. I mean do you think that is acceptable for someone in his position? He is not just a backbencher he is head of the policy unit at No. 10, to say that ‘money should go to really disabled people, not those taking pills at home’?
John Redwood: They are not my words and I don’t wish to repeat it, and he must explain what he meant by them.
The government is really on the ropes on this issue