The Home Secretary mocked Emily Thornberry, who was standing in for Diane Abbott during the BBC Women’s Hour election debate, for trying to pluck funds from the “magical money tree” to honour the promise.
Women Campaigning Against Pension Inequality (Waspi) claim around 3.5 million women in the UK have been affected by the decision to increase the age at which women can claim the state pension from 60 to 66.
The campaigners argue some women were not given enough time and insufficient transitionary arrangements, leaving many born in the 1950s out of pocket.
Addressing their concerns, shadow foreign secretary Ms Thornberry said: “We’ve been campaigning with the Waspi women for some time now.
Amber Rudd mocked Labour's 'magical money tree' funding of state pension changes
Labour would once again be dipping into the magic money tree. The fact is we are all living longer
“I was down in Swansea with Carolyn Harris – one of the leading Waspi campaigners… We’re going to reserve it, and of course, while the age of retirement needs to be equalised, it’s not fair to do it as quickly as they have done.
“People have not been able to plan, I was going to talk about particular women I had met down in Swansea, one of the Waspi women I met was relying on her daughter to help her.”
When asked about how Labour would fund it, Ms Thonberry added: “We have a fully costed manifesto and it has been looked at – the figures are simply there but I’m sorry slightly last minute by coming in here…”
This prompted an outburst from the Home Secretary, who was quick to launch an attack on yet another Labour frontbencher not being able to provide accurate figures during their election campaign.
Ms Rudd claimed the Labour reserve would cost at least “£77 billion” over the entire payments period.
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She added: “This would once again be dipping into the magic money tree. The fact is we are all living longer – that is the good news – so we have had to make changes to the equalisation of pension payments.
“In 2011 we put in another billion to try and smooth it for the Waspi women, who were being particularly disadvantaged, which I hope we achieved up to a point – but there are difficult decisions that had to be made.”
When challenged on the people affected by the Conservative changes, Ms Rudd apologised, however, reaffirmed the change had to be made because “we are living longer”.
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Ms Thornberry was called up as a late replacement for shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who was due to feature in the live debate but pulled out after being “taken ill”.
One source said: “Hopefully she’s not got a Brexit migraine again.”
Women’s Hour said in a statement: “A change in the Women’s Hour debate line-up this morning: Diane Abbott taken ill. Labour says it's finding a replacement.”
Labour said: “Diane Abbott is unable to take part in Women’s Hour election phone in because of illness. Emily Thornberry has agreed to take part in her place.”