Hammond Forced to Defend ‘No Unemployed People’ Blunder on TV

Philip Hammond on Nov. 19.

Photographer: Jeff Overs/BBC

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 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 capitalize on the chancellor’s remarks.

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

When challenged about his comment on the unemployed, 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.”

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