Tuesday 04 October 2022

Prime minister and Wilders clash over refugees

PERSCONFERENTIE MINISTERRAADPrime minister Mark Rutte launched a strong attack on PVV leader Geert Wilders during the second day of debate on the government’s 2016 spending plans .

During his speech on Wednesday, Wilders had used phrases such as ‘Islamic asylum tsunami’ and described refugees as ‘testosterone bombs’ who ‘threaten our girls’. Rutte said on Thursday such terminology is ‘terrible’ and failed to make any contribution to finding a solution.

While agreeing with Wilders that some councils had not properly consulted their residents about the arrival of refugee centres, the prime minister said he had ‘very great faith’ in the Dutch people. They understand there is no simple answer to this complex problem, Rutte said.

‘We have to be fair to voters,’ Rutte said. ‘This is a complicated issue and there is no simple solution… and Wilders knows that more than anyone.’

Spending power

After focusing on the asylum issue, Rutte then turned to criticism of the spending power estimates published by the government on Tuesday, particularly by Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer.

Despite the government’s assurances in the king’s speech that pensioners and people on benefits will not be worse off, Roemer said 700,000 pensioners and 130,000 families on benefits would lose out. The government’s statement is, ‘to speak in plain Dutch a lie’, the MP said.

Rutte disagreed with Roemer’s conclusions, saying that on average, pensioners and people on benefits will be 0.2% better off next year. The prime minister admitted this is not much but it is better than the 1% decline in spending power which had originally been forecast.

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