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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Wednesday May 22, 2024
Wednesday May 22, 2024

Rishi Sunak’s political turmoil: Commons defeat sparks crisis over infected blood scandal

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Major blow for Tory leader as cross-party vote establishes new body for victims

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In a stunning turn of events, Chancellor Rishi Sunak faced a humiliating defeat in the House of Commons over the ongoing infected blood scandal, as MPs, including 23 of his own backbenchers, voted overwhelmingly for a crucial amendment. The blow resulted in the eradication of Sunak’s majority, marking a significant setback for the Tory leader.

The pivotal amendment, part of the Victims and Prisoners Bill, will set up a dedicated body overseeing a comprehensive compensation scheme for the thousands of patients who fell victim to HIV and hepatitis C infections through tainted blood products during the 1970s and 1980s.

The chairmanship of this newly established body will be entrusted to a High Court Judge, tasked with managing the disbursement of billions of pounds in compensation to the affected patients and their families.

Notably, 30 Tory MPs, including former Cabinet Ministers David Davis and Sir Robert Buckland, supported the amendment, underlining the cross-party nature of the vote.

Responding to the defeat, Tory minister Edward Argar attempted to assuage concerns, pledging that the Government would introduce its own amendment to the Bill. This proposed amendment aims to define clear timelines for the establishment of a delivery body responsible for compensating victims of the scandal. Argar emphasized that the Government has already acknowledged the “moral case” for making these payments.

In a statement to MPs, Argar expressed remorse, stating, “The infected blood scandal should never have happened, and my thoughts remain with those impacted by this appalling tragedy.”

Labour Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, in a letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, conveyed Labour’s support for the amendment. Describing the scandal as “one of the most appalling tragedies in our country’s recent history,” Reeves urged a collaborative, cross-party effort to address this historic injustice.

Campaigner Dame Diana Johnson, who has been a prominent voice advocating for the victims, underscored the urgency of establishing the compensation body by the end of the year. The proposal aligns with the recommendation of Sir Brian Langstaff, the chairman of the contaminated blood inquiry and a former High Court judge.

As the political fallout unfolds, this defeat adds pressure on Sunak’s leadership, raising questions about the Tory government’s handling of a scandal that has left a lasting impact on the lives of those affected.

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