A Conservative candidate was jeered after she said people with learning disabilities “don’t understand about money”.
Sally-Ann Hart, the Tory candidate for the marginal seat of Hastings and Rye, was questioned about sharing an article in 2017 which said people with learning disabilities should earn less than the minimum wage.
During a hustings event on Thursday evening in Amber Rudd’s old seat, she said if people read the article they would see it was about people with learning difficulties “being given the opportunity to work because it’s to do with the happiness they have about working”.
As some audience members shouted “how dare you” and booed, she added: “Some people with learning difficulties, they don’t understand about money.
“It is about having a therapeutic exemption and the article was in support of employing people with learning disabilities. That’s what it was.”
She urged the audience to read the article.
On the post linked to the Spectator article she shared on Facebook, she wrote: “This is so right.”
The article was written by Rosa Monckton, who argued her daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome, wanted to work but “employers are not charities, and it is difficult for them to employ people if their output amounts to a loss”.
She argued for a “therapeutic exemption” from the minimum wage so people with learning disabilities could benefit from work while employers did not have to pay them the minimum wage.
The author, who runs a disabilities charity, also said her daughter has no understanding of money but “they want to work so as to have a fulfilling and purposeful life”.
Mrs Hart’s comments were met with derision by Labour as well as disability equality charity Scope.
A spokesman for Scope said: “These opinions are outdated, inexcusable, and should be consigned to history.
“Disabled people should be payed equally for the work that they do.”
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Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said: “If Boris Johnson wins next Thursday, the hostile environment the Conservatives have created for disabled people will push even more into poverty.
“Disabled people are already shut out of employment and have been disproportionately harmed by the Conservative and Lib Dems’ cuts.
“Now, these comments further expose the contempt the Conservatives feel for disabled people, which underlie their policies towards us.
“These aren’t comments Sally-Ann Hart made years ago. She made them during this election. Anyone with such hateful views has no place in Parliament.”
Ms Sally-Ann Hart later told the Evening Standard: “For the avoidance of doubt, I was trying to emphasise that more needs to be done to help those with learning disabilities into the workplace and having properly paid work.
“My comments have been taken out of context, but I do apologise if any offence or alarm has been caused.”
Sky News has contacted the Conservatives for comment.
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