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Jacob Rees-Mogg: I can’t cook and wouldn’t have made Tory MP’s food bank remarks

By Nina Lloyd
PA Wire

The efficiency minister has said he “can’t cook” and “would not have said” remarks made by a Tory MP who suggested people use food banks to avoid making their own meals.

Jacob Rees-Mogg became the second minister in as many days to distance himself from the comments made on Wednesday by Lee Anderson in the House of Commons.

Mr Anderson caused outrage after suggesting food bank usage has risen in part because of “generation after generation” of people who are unable to cook or budget properly.

“Somebody in my position cannot possibly say things like that, I can’t cook myself and it wouldn’t be right for me to lecture people on how to live their lives,” Mr Rees-Mogg told Sky News on Friday.

His comments echoed those of justice minister Victoria Atkins, who told the programme on Thursday the remarks were “not right”, but said she thought they may have been misinterpreted.

“I think human nature is about empathising with people who live different lives from oneself,” Mr Rees-Mogg added.

Asked whether he disagreed with Mr Anderson over lecturing people on not being able to provide meals for their children at 30p a day, he replied: “I would not have said it.”

Mr Rees-Mogg, who is also Minister of State and Brexit opportunities minister, accepted his circumstances are “very fortunate” when asked about his own experience of the cost-of-living crisis hitting millions, but said he had seen constituents “very significantly” affected.

Mr Anderson suggested food bank use had risen because some people could not cook or budget properly (UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

“My personal circumstances are very fortunate and I think my lecturing people on my own circumstances is not relevant, not helpful. But I do try and help constituents who get in touch with me… and help my constituents who are struggling.”

Pressed on whether he could “genuinely empathise” with people in poverty given his personal wealth, Mr Rees-Mogg insisted he did.

Presenter Niall Paterson said: “You’ll understand that people do sometimes look at you, the three-piece suits, the affectations, the nanny, the Westminster townhouse, the manor house in the countryside, the personal wealth, you’re running perhaps into triple figure millions.”

“That’s simply not true,” Mr Rees-Mogg interjected, but added it was a “very fair question” to ask whether he could understand the struggles of lower-income constituents.

Mr Rees-Mogg said: “As a constituency MP you have people come to see you most weeks to discuss how they are living their lives, and you will have to be the most stone-hearted person not to be able to (empathise) when people come to talk to you about how they are living.”

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Dive Deeper:
Jacob Rees-Mogg warns against help with cost of living crisis because of inflation risk
’You do have to be quite cautious, fiscally, not to make the problem worse’
Minister distances Government from Tory MP Lee Anderson’s food bank comments
The MP for Ashfield is facing a backlash for saying people use food banks because they ‘cannot cook properly’ and…
Tory doubles down on foodbank claims and says 'I'm glad it caused all this fuss'
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson dug in over his controversial remarks, saying: 'The point I was trying to make is that…
Tory MP urged to apologise over claim food bank users ‘cannot cook properly’
Labour branded his remarks ‘beyond belief’, whilst the Liberal Democrats described them as ‘disgraceful’ and the SNP ‘reprehensible’.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Tory MP defends Lee Anderson and says 'poor basic skills' trapping people in cycle of poverty
He has come to the defence of Ashfield's Tory MP Lee Anderson whose comments have been the cause for controversy
Tory MP : People use food banks because they cannot budget or cook properly
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson made the remarks during a debate on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons.
Get all your news in one place