Chancellor accused of using knife crime crisis to blackmail MPs over Brexit

Philip Hammond has been accused of using the knife crime crisis to blackmail MPs over Brexit after he told media there would be cash to deal with the issue if MPs backed Theresa May’s agreement with the EU.

Another teenager was stabbed to death on the streets of London yesterday, bringing the number of people knifed to death in the UK this year to at least 28.

The victim, described only as being in his late teens, was stabbed in the chest in Fulham yesterday afternoon and died of his injuries in hospital. A 37-year-old man stabbed in Soho, central London, on Sunday also died of his injuries yesterday, following a traumatic week of violence on the capital’s streets.

Police officer Det Ch Insp Dave Whellams admitted knife crime had reached “unprecedented levels” following the spate of attacks.

He said: “The ferocity we are experiencing now is really unprecedented and the frequency that it is coming in at, definitely.”

But that didn’t stop Chancellor Philip Hammond playing politics with the deepening crisis.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “If we get the right Brexit deal done, and a smooth exit from the EU so that we can release the money that we’ve set aside to deal with the possible disruption of a no-deal exit, then that will give us more money still that we can put into public services over the next three years.”

He dismissed calls from forces for an immediate injection of cash to combat knife crime, saying they needed to move existing money around instead.

“What we need to see is a surging of resources from other areas of policing activity into dealing with this spike in knife crime.

“That’s what you do in any organisation when you get a specific problem occurring in one area of the operation. If you have got an immediate problem you cannot solve it by recruiting and training more officers — that takes time.”

Layla Moran, a spokeswoman for anti-Brexit group Best For Britain, said: “Using the tragedy of the knife crime epidemic to hold MPs to ransom is nothing short of callous.”

The Lib Dem MP added: “This government will stop at nothing to get this dead-as-a-dodo deal through Parliament, even if it means tastelessly suggesting that more funding for our police relies on May’s deal passing.”

Police Federation chairman John Apter said: “Children are dying on our streets and he has the audacity to suggest that the police need to prioritise. Let me assure him — this is a priority.”

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