ALL four of East Lancashire’s Labour MPs refused to block drastic welfare cuts, it emerged today.

Forty-eight Labour MPs defied a diktat by their own party and voted against the government’s welfare reforms, including leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn.


The raft of rebels ignored interim leader Harriet Harman’s call for them to abstain in the second reading vote on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

The Bill includes a future limit on tax credits to two children per household, reducing the ‘welfare cap’ on the total amount a household can receive from £26,000 to £23,000, abolishing child poverty targets, cutting child tax credits, changing disability benefits and cutting housing assistance for young people.

But East Lancashire’s Labour representatives – Julie Cooper (Burnley), Kate Hollern (Blackburn), Graham Jones (Hyndburn) and Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) – all refused to vote against the bill.

Mrs Cooper said: “I totally oppose the Tory proposals.

“I came into politics to fight for the poorest and must vulnerable and while I respect all my Labour colleagues we will achieve more as a united party.

“The news today should be dominated by the policies that they will use their majority to push forward but this split has let them off the hook and those who need us most will suffer.”

Mrs Hollern said: “This was a difficult decision. I met with Harriet Harman and expressed my concerns over not opposing the Tories’ proposals.

“After my meeting with Harriet I was assured this is only the beginning of a major fight with the Tories. I am determined we will fight this regressive Bill.

“If the government does not make the major changes during committee stage, then, I will oppose this Bill at third reading.”

But Blackburn Liberal Democrat leader Cllr David Foster condemned Mrs Hollern for failing to stand up for her constituents.

Cllr Foster said: “For the last five years I have sat in Blackburn with Darwen’s Council chamber and listened to Kate Hollern condemn the former coalition for imposing welfare cuts.

“However their Labour MP has failed at the first hurdle. She did not vote against the Welfare Bill in parliament.”

Mr Jones said: “The 48 MPs who decided disgracefully not to support the Labour Party should get out more and speak to the public.”