Hammond says no unemployed people in Britain, then says govt focused on getting them into work

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was quizzed about Wednesday's (Nov 22) Budget on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show in London on Nov 19, 2017.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was quizzed about Wednesday's (Nov 22) Budget on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show in London on Nov 19, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was forced to say he hadn't forgotten Britain's unemployed - minutes after declaring they didn't exist.

Quizzed about Wednesday's (Nov 22) Budget on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the chancellor's blunder came as he defended the government's push to invest in artificial intelligence and new technologies such as driverless cars, dismissing fears they would leave truck and taxi drivers jobless.

"Twenty years ago, we were worrying about what was going to happen to the million shorthand typists in Britain as the personal computer took over," he said. "Nobody has a shorthand typist these days. Where are all these unemployed people? There are no unemployed people."

The opposition Labour Party was quick to capitalise on the chancellor's remarks.

"The chancellor thinks there are no unemployed people in this country," Mr John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, tweeted. "Completely out of touch."

When challenged about his comment on the unemployed, Mr Hammond said: "They haven't been forgotten by this government. We're focused on getting them into work. It was the last Labour government that abandoned and ignored them and dumped them on welfare." `