LONDON: Tory MP Nadine Dorries has been accused of “callousness” after posting a link online to a 10-year-old story about Muslims claiming benefits for multiple wives. The MP for Mid Bedfordshire shared a post on Twitter from a supporter of the far-right anti-Islam party, For Britain, which suggested Muslim men in polygamous marriages can receive state handouts for each of their wives.
According to an Independent report, Ms Dorries posted the tweet – which included a link to a story from 2008 in the Daily Express, with the headline ‘Muslims can claim benefits for several wives, say Ministers’.
She accompanied it with the comment: “Ministers, are you having a laugh?”, before deleting it 11 minutes later. Despite being accurate at the time of publication in 2008, the story no longer applies under the current benefits system.
Ten years ago, a husband and a wife could claim out-of-work benefits as a couple, while additional spouses would receive a separate amount which was less than the single-person rate.
Under the existing universal credit system, polygamous relationships are not recognised and any additional partners each have to claim as a single person.
Polygamous marriages are not common practice in the UK and it is currently illegal to marry more than one person. It is, however, accepted if the marriages have taken place in a country where the practice is legal. Estimates suggest there are fewer than 1,000 polygamous marriages in the UK.
In reference to Ms Dorries’ tweet, a Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) spokesperson said it provided further evidence for the need to investigate concerns about Islamophobia within the Tory party. “Once again Ms Dorries appears to demonstrate a callousness when it comes to discussing Muslims. She is quite ready to play into far-right tropes about Muslims, as is evident with a number of complaints about Ms Dorries lodged with the Conservative Party,” a spokesperson told The Independent.