The Health Secretary has become the latest senior Conservative to distance himself from the Home Secretary’s claim that rough sleeping is sometimes a “lifestyle choice”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak refused to repeat Suella Braverman’s remarks on Monday while Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk also distanced themselves from the comments.
Tory MP Natalie Elphicke and Conservative former minister Vicky Ford have also made clear that they disagree with Ms Braverman’s claim.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Home Secretary said the UK should not become San Francisco or Los Angeles, and warned against rough sleeping becoming a “lifestyle choice”.
Mr Barclay repeatedly declined on Wednesday to endorse the phrasing.
He told Sky News that ministers were working to get rough sleeping down.
“There’s often complex issues behind this and what we’re determined to do from a health point of view is address those – is it mental health, is it addiction? What are the issues driving some of the people that are rough sleeping?”
The comments by Ms Braverman have been widely criticised, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer taking aim at the Cabinet minister during the King’s Speech debate in the Commons on Tuesday.
“We have a party so devoid of leadership it is happy to follow a Home Secretary who describes homelessness as a lifestyle choice,” he told MPs.