Labour's plans to put an extra 10,000 police on British streets has been left in tatters after shadow home secretary Diane Abbott struggled to explain funding for the scheme in a car-crash interview.
The party has said it would find money to recruit the cops by reversing cuts to capital gains tax, but Abbott was unable to explain how much cash would be raised when pressed earlier today.
Abbott initially suggested the party could recruit the officers for a total of £300,000, equivalent to £30 each, before backtracking live on LBC radio earlier today.
"I mean...sorry. They will cost...they will, it will cost...erm...about £80m," the shadow home secretary said.
However, Abbott failed to answer when pressed again on the salaries of newly recruited officers. Total funding of £80m for 10,000 new officers could see them earn salaries of £8,000 a year.
"We get to that figure because we anticipate recruiting 25,000 extra police officers a year over a period of four years, and we're looking at what average police wages are generally, but also specifically police wages in London," Abbott said.
In excruciating exchanges, she also briefly suggested the party could recruit up to 250,000 officers, before claiming that host Nick Ferrari had introduced the number.
The Conservatives have seized on the audio as evidence of confusion within the Labour ranks.
Home secretary Amber Rudd said: “Diane Abbott has laid bare the chaos that Britain would face if Jeremy Corbyn is voted into Downing Street.
“One of Corbyn’s closest allies has clearly shown that Labour’s sums don’t add up, they would weaken our defences, and their nonsensical promises aren’t worth the paper they are printed on."
Full Transcript from LBC
Nick Ferrari: So how much would 10,000 police officers cost?
Diane Abbott: Well, erm... if we recruit the 10,000 police men and women over a four-year period, we believe it'll be about £300,000.
Nick Ferrari: £300,000 for 10,000 police officers? What are you paying them?
Diane Abbott: Haha, no. I mean, sorry...
Nick Ferrari: How much will they cost?
Diane Abbott: They will cost... they will, it will cost, erm, about... about £80m.
Nick Ferrari: About £80m? How do you get to that figure?
Diane Abbott: We get to that figure because we anticipate recruiting 25,000 extra police officers a year at least, over a period of four years and we're looking at both what average police wages are generally, but also specifically police wages in London.
Nick Ferrari: And this will be funded by the reversing in some instances I think the cuts to Capital Gains Tax, but I'm right in saying that since Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the party, that money has also been promised to reverse spending cuts in education, spending cuts in arts, spending cuts in sports. The Conservatives will say you've spent this money already Diane Abbott.
Diane Abbott: Well, the Conservatives would say that. We've not promised the money to any area. We've just pointed out that the cuts in capital gains tax will cost the taxpayer over £2bn and there are better ways of spending that money. But as we roll out our manifesto process, we are specifically saying how we will fund specific proposals and this morning I'm saying to you that we will fund the 10,000 extra police officers by using some, not all, but just some of the over £2bn.
Nick Ferrari: The £80m is the figure we used.
Diane Abbott: Yeah.
Nick Ferrari: But I don't understand., if you divide 80mby 10,000, you get 8,000. Is that what you're going to pay these policemen and women?
Diane Abbott: No, we're talking about, erm, a process over four years.
Nick Ferrari: I don't understand, what is he or she getting? 80m divided by 10,000 equals 8,000. What are these police officers going to be paid?
Diane Abbott: We will be paying them the average...
Nick Ferrari: Has this been thought through?
Diane Abbott: Of course it's been thought through.
Nick Ferrari: Where are the figures?
Diane Abbott: The figures are that the additional costs in year one when we anticipate recruiting about 250,000 policemen will be £64.3m.
Nick Ferrari: 250,000 policemen?
Diane Abbott: And women.
Nick Ferrari: So you're getting more than 10,000? You're recruiting 250,000?
Diane Abbott: No, we are recruiting 2,000 and perhaps 250.
Nick Ferrari: So where did 250,000 come from?
Diane Abbott: I think you said that, not me.
Nick Ferrari: No, no, I can assure you you said that figure because I wrote it down.
Diane Abbott: What I'm saying about the costs is in year one, obviously, we're getting ready to recruit. But in year two, the cost will be £64.3m. In year three, the cost will be a £139.1m, year four, the cost will be £217m and year five, the cost will be £298m. And that can be amply covered by reversing the cuts to capital gains tax.