Tories say MP missing vote on benefit delays in order to referee a football match has time 'better spent elsewhere'

Theresa MayCarl Court / GettyTheresa May outside Downing Street.
  • Tory MP will miss a vote on the government’s controversial benefit plans in order to referee a Barcelona Champions League match.
  • Spokesperson for the prime minister says Ross’s time may be “better spent elsewhere.”
  • Downing Street indicates that the entire government may not take part in the vote.
  • Labour calls the decision “completely unacceptable.”

LONDON — An MP who will miss a vote on the government’s controversial benefits plans in order to referee a football match was today defended by a spokesperson for the prime minister, who suggested that the MP’s time was “better spent elsewhere.”

Labour has tabled a vote on delaying the rollout of universal credit after users of the system were hit by lengthy delays to receiving their payments.

However, Conservative MP Douglas Ross will miss an opposition vote on Wednesday evening on whether to pause the rollout of universal credit, as he will be acting as a linesman in Barcelona’s Champions League tie against Olympiacos.

May’s spokesperson indicated that Ross and others may decide not to take part in the vote as they feel there are more important things for them to be doing.

“The member in question has said this does not interfere with his parliamentary duties and he would not do anything that would do so,” a spokesperson for May said on Ross’s decision to attend the match instead.

They added: “We may say to MPs, if they feel their time can be better spent elsewhere [then they should].”

“[Ross] doesn’t feel like he effectively performs his parliamentary duties on such [votes].”

Downing Street indicated that the entire government may choose not to take part in either this vote, or future opposition day votes.

Labour said the decision to miss the vote was “completely unacceptable.”

“The shambles of the universal credit rollout is causing serious suffering, increases of debt, homelessness and a six week wait for benefits. It is an extremely serious matter,” a spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said.

“It’s completely unacceptable. There’s an obligation on Conservative MPs if they care about the suffering that their constituents are experiencing over this shambolic and cruel policy to take part and if they fail to do that then it is a measure of their own lack of commitment to their constituents.”

SNP MP John McNally today raised the issue at prime minister’s questions, pulling out a red card to show to May.

“What message does this send to hardworking members of the public who are expected to turn up to their day job or face sanctions?” McNally asked.

The prime minister replied that “the constituents of Moray will be very pleased that they have a Conservative member of parliament who is pursuing their interests in this house.”

SNP MP @JohnMcNallyMP shows skiving Tory MP Douglas Ross the red card at #PMQs
— Liam Furby (@MrFurby) October 18, 2017

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.