John Harris

Journalist & Author

Blame the scroungers. Blame the migrants. How Britain fell for austerity | John Harris

A swathe of public opinion has turned cruel. ‘They just don’t give a shit,’ a woman who’s been living on the streets told me

In January this year, I went on a Brexit trip to Dover. The main aim was to get a sense of what a no-deal exit from the EU would mean for the haulage trade, but while I was there I spent a long and cold afternoon wandering the seafront and town centre. Just near the white cliffs, on a jetty that seemed to form the last British land before the Channel, there was a dome tent, seemingly the property of someone who was homeless: an awful symbol of this country as a land of want and wilful neglect.

Later, in the centre of town, I met a woman who had been living on the streets for four years, having been repeatedly “sanctioned” and had her benefits stopped. The last time this had happened, she had been in hospital and failed to make it to the jobcentre, which caused her payments to be suspended for three months.

Johnson’s antics have a flavour of pre-revolutionary France. To hell with poverty: here is Mr Optimism with a chicken

Related: Boris Johnson says he’ll spend, but who will pay?

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