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A Conservative MP who dismissed a disabled woman during a live TV debate has been appointed as a government minister.

Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, was criticised for his insensitive response to a disabled woman who said people with disabilities were dying because of spending cuts.

Raab, who was recently promoted by Theresa May to the role of Justice Minister, also received criticism for his suggestion that people use food banks not because they are poor but because they have “cash flow problems”. According to a report in The Independent, the disability campaigner, Fiona, who challenged Raab during the BBC Victoria Derbyshire election debate, said she knew disabled people who had committed suicide because of spending cuts. She said: “You’re all talking about numbers and money, and there is an ocean of suffering under that.

“Oxford University just released research showing that in 2015 in England and Wales alone there were 30,000 excess deaths caused by cuts to health and social care.

“Tens of thousands of disabled and sick people are dying every year. We are dying. There have been hundreds of suicides. I spent hours after the last general election trying to talk people out of killing themselves, and I didn’t always succeed. People are dying here and nobody cares.”

In response, Raab claimed calls for cuts to be reversed were just a “childish wish list” unless the economy is growing. He added: “There are plenty of heart-rending stories here, and no one could be anything other than moved by it. We have put 11,000 more doctors into the NHS, 12,000 more nurses. We have got a renewed focus on mental health and also making sure we’re trying to take the pressure off big hospitals in the manifesto. But the real truth is the money’s got to come from somewhere…”

Prior to the general election in June, disability charity Scope revealed that 89 per cent of the UK’s 13 million disabled people, including mobility scooter uses, were planning on voting. With the Conservatives narrowly missing out on an overall majority, many are left wondering what will happen in terms of austerity and support for disabled people.

Image credit: Steve Johnson

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