British PM's social mobility board quits over failing the poor

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at a press conference in Amman, Jordan, November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville (Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) - All four members of the British government's Social Mobility Commission have quit accusing Prime Minister Theresa May of being too fixated on Brexit to improve the prospects of those from poor backgrounds. May has said she would create an economy which works for all Britons, but the commission's chairman Alan Milburn, a former minister in Tony Blair's Labour government, said she was failing to deliver on her promises. "I have reached the conclusion sadly that the current government bears little, if any, hope of progress being made toward the fairer Britain the prime minister has talked about," Milburn told the BBC on Sunday. "The government for understandable reasons is focused on Brexit and seems to lack the bandwith to be able to translate the rhetoric of healing social division and promoting social justice into reality." May talked about tackling the "burning injustices" in society on her first day as prime minister last year. She talked about tackling racism, gender inequality, the underperformance of government schools and the difficulties young people face buying a home. A government spokesman said it was making good progress on social mobility. "We accept there is more to do and that is why we are focusing our efforts in disadvantaged areas where we can make the biggest difference," the spokesman said. May, who presides over a warring cabinet and has faced an open rebellion by some of her own lawmakers, is being buffeted by crises. Two ministers have quit May's cabinet in the last month, placing a strain on the government ahead of the Dec. 14-15 summit on Britain's exit from the European Union, when Britain wants EU leaders to give a green light to talks about future trade relations. An opinion poll published for the Mail On Sunday newspaper put Labour on 45 percent with the ruling Conservatives on 37 percent, the biggest lead for opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn's party in a survey by pollster Survation since late 2013. "An 8 point lead would put the Labour party into overall majority territory if such vote share totals were reflected at the ballot box," Survation said. Corbyn has promised sweeping renationalisation, tax rises for the rich and increased welfare spending, including an end to healthcare cuts and scrapping university tuition fees. (Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Costas Pitas; Editing by Janet Lawrence)