Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland welcomes resignation of Iain Duncan Smith as he is chosen by Conservatives to stand for a third term

Stephen McPartland

Stephen McPartland - Credit: Archant

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland has welcomed the resignation of Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith saying the former Tory leader had “lost his way”.

Mr Duncan Smith resigned from the government last week after chancellor George Osborne announced its intention to make cuts to disability benefits.

But Mr McPartland accused his fellow Conservative of “evangelical, aggressive and routinely failing welfare reforms” that he said were treated like his “personal fiefdom”.

Mr McPartland said he had “robust exchanges” with the secretary of state on many occasions over his plans for welfare reforms and said he wouldn’t be “shedding any tears” after his resignation.

He said: “It is no secret that I had a real problem with the way the secretary of state was introducing his welfare reforms and we have had very robust exchanges.

“The last meeting we had over Employment and Support Allowance was essentially an argument and it became clear to me he had lost his way.

“The announcements to be published in the forthcoming welfare reforms White Paper were just frightening.”

Most Read

Mr McPartland had previously fallen out with Mr Duncan Smith over his plans to cut tax credits.

He said: “I was furious over tax credits and successfully fought to have the policy reversed.

“This was followed by the abolishment of ESA for those considered capable of moving into work-related activities which I also voted against and fought.

“Then the announcements on the Personal Independence Payments for the disabled were just shocking.

“They were shocking because once again we were being asked to support a policy without any idea of what the reforms would be. What would be the additional support offered to disabled people?”

He added: “It is the proud duty of the Conservative Party to help those who fall on hard times and protect the most vulnerable in society.”

He said the government now has a “real opportunity” to get its welfare reforms policy right and said he is looking forward to his first meeting with Stephen Crabb, Mr Duncan Smith’s replacement.

It comes as the Stevenage Conservative Association chose Mr McPartland as its candidate to represent Stevenage for a third time at the 2020 General Election.

The Stevenage MP won convincing victories in both the 2010 and 2015 elections and said he was “delighted” to be selected to fight for the seat again.

During his time in office Mr McPartland has campaigned strongly in favour of free parking in the town and for the regeneration of the Stevenage town centre.

In recent times he has stood against the Conservative Party in parliament on issues including tax credits and air strikes in Syria.

He recently declared he will campaign for Britain to leave the EU.