Smug Brexit-bashing Dutch PM Mark Rutte forced to QUIT along with entire cabinet over child benefit scandal
BREXIT-bashing Dutch PM Mark Rutte has been forced to resign over a childcare benefit scandal.
Mr Rutte, an outspoken critic of Britain’s choice to leave the EU, stepped down today after thousands of parents in the Netherlands were wrongly accused of child benefit fraud.
All four parties in the ruling coalition resigned today after accepting responsibility for the scandal, though the government will remain in a caretaker capacity to manage the coronavirus crisis.
A parliamentary inquiry last month found that some 10,000 families in the Netherlands were wrongly accused of child benefit fraud and forced to repay tens of thousands of euros – leaving many facing financial ruin.
Rutte was booed as he cycled out of the government buildings in The Hague on his way to formally hand his resignation to Dutch King Willem-Alexander at the Huis ten Bosch Palace, AFP reports.
The Dutch tax office also said many of the families were targeted based on their ethnic or dual nationalities.
Orlando Kadir, an attorney representing around 600 families in a lawsuit against politicians, said people had been targeted "as a result of ethnic profiling by bureaucrats who picked out their foreign-looking names".
In a statement, Mr Rutte said: “We are of one mind that if the whole system has failed, we all must take responsibility, and that has led to the conclusion that I have just offered the king, the resignation of the entire Cabinet.”
Rival parties across the political spectrum said Mr Rutte’s conservative People’s Party for Freedom had presided over a decade of “unprecedented injustice”.
Mr Rutte sparked a diplomatic row in February 2019 after he labelled Britain a “waning country”.
He told El Pais: “Who will be left weakened by Brexit is the United Kingdom.
“It is neither the US nor the EU. It is too small to appear on the world stage on its own.”
But Theresa May hit back at the remarks at the time, with her spokesman pointing to Britain’s continued status as the premier place in Europe to do business.
He said: “I disagree entirely. Employment is at a record high, exports are at a record high, companies are continuing to invest in the UK.
Mr Rutte’s resignation has triggered a political crisis for the governing coalition, with coronavirus infections rising and a general election just two months away.
Even though public support for the government's Covid-19 measures has fallen in recent weeks, Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is still riding high in opinion polls ahead of the vote on March 17.
The Netherlands is currently in a strict lockdown, and has reported over 900,000 infections and 12,868 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
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