Philip Hammond has caused confusion by claiming there are ‘no unemployed people’ in the UK

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Philip Hammond is taking some heat after he claimed “there are no unemployed people” in the UK.

The Chancellor later clarified remarks made during a discussion on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, saying on ITV’s Peston On Sunday he “didn’t mean” there’s no unemployment and “there’s 1.4 million unemployed people in this country and that’s 1.4 million too many”.

Hammond made the comment during a discussion on how Britain can deal with the threat to jobs from technological change.

“I remember 20 years ago we were worrying about what was going to happen to the million shorthand typists in Britain as the personal computer took over,” he said. “Well, nobody has a shorthand typist these days, but where are all these unemployed people? There are no unemployed people.”

Despite efforts to clarify his comments, Hammond’s name was quickly trending on Twitter, and the gaffe drew ridicule…

… and sharp criticism.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable also described Hammond as out of touch.

“As Chancellor, Philip Hammond needs to be on top of the numbers and, as he should know very well, there are actually 1.425 million people unemployed,” he said. “Worse, a large number of them are second or third generation out of work, suggesting that all that a large number of people are inheriting in Britain today is poverty.

“It underlines just how out of touch the Conservatives are with millions of Britons who are living on the breadline.”

Some on Twitter suggested the gaffe may be a threat to Hammond’s own employment.

However, some thought, and hoped, Hammond was only talking about shorthand typists, as had been the topic of his discussion.

Whether a misunderstanding or a good old-fashioned gaffe, the comment might be following Hammond around this week.

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