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Harman faces party backlash over stance on welfare cuts

Harriet Harman is fighting a backlash within her own party this week as she said Labour would not oppose some of the welfare cuts put forward in the Tory government budget last week.

After Ed Miliband’s electoral defeat in May, the Camberwell and Peckham MP took over as acting party leader. But with four leadership contenders all voicing different opinions on the party’s future it’s been a tough job for the veteran MP to keep the party together.

In response to Chancellor George Osborne’s budget on Wednesday, Ms Harman made the surprise announcement that Labour would not vote against the welfare bill and should not oppose limiting child tax credits to two children, provoking a storm of criticism from within the party ranks, including some leadership candidates.

In a BBC interview this week Ms Harman said: “We didn’t get elected at the last election…because people didn’t trust us on the economy and on welfare,” and urged against a knee-jerk opposition to the budget. “If we oppose everything, we’ll succeed on nothing,” she said, setting out specific policies they will challenge including cuts to tax credits “which are going to make people in work worse off”, the abolition of child poverty targets and the ending of grants for low income students.

In response to the apparent disarray of the party she is leading, Ms Harman said: “It’s bound to be a difficult time if you’ve just lost an election and not just one election but the second election in a row.”

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