Boris Johnson will not intervene in cost of living crisis as that is ‘for future prime minister’ | Politics News
Downing Street has rejected calls for Boris Johnson to summon an emergency COBRA meeting to deal with the cost of living crisis.
Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, has called for Mr Johnson to meet with his two potential successors and thrash out a financial package of measures before energy bills soar in October.
He said people will go cold and hungry this winter if urgent action isn’t taken now, telling Sky News he was seeing poverty in his hometown in Fife “that I did not expect to see ever again in my lifetime“.
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But the prime minister’s spokesman said that although the government recognises the challenges facing struggling households, “by convention it is not for this prime minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period. It will be for a future prime minister.”
He also defended Mr Johnson for going on holiday as the Bank of England warned of a looming recession, saying the public understand it’s “not unusual for ministers to take time off during recess”.
Mr Johnson and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi faced criticism for being missing in action amid grim forecasts that the UK is heading for the worst financial crisis since the 2008 crash, with interests rates soaring to their highest level in 27 years.
The PM’s spokesperson said Mr Johnson – who is now back in No 10 after his holiday in Slovenia – had spoken to Mr Zahawi while on his break to discuss measures that will be coming in this year.
He suggested Mr Johnson had no plans to sit down with Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, saying: “Both candidates have spoken about new things they would introduce.”
Ms Truss has pledged to reverse the national insurance tax rise immediately if she becomes prime minister, while Mr Sunak has promised a VAT cut on energy bills.
Neither have ruled out further direct support for families struggling with mounting energy bills, which are expected to climb to nearly £4,000 a year from January as gas prices continue to push upward.
However, Mr Brown said new measures cannot wait as he criticised their “obsession” with tax cuts.
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Mr Brown set out his own vision for dealing with the cost of living crisis, including changing the windfall tax, a cap on energy bills and reforming the benefits system.
He branded the Tory party’s windfall tax “stupid”, claiming the opt-outs included in the tax brought forward when Mr Sunak was chancellor reduced the value of the tax from £15bn to £5bn.
Ms Truss and Mr Sunak continue to clash over their plans for the economy.
Mr Sunak launched a fresh attack on his opponent’s plan for tax cuts in an emergency budget, describing it as a “big bung” for large businesses and the better-off that would do little to help those most in need over the coming winter.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis – who is backing Ms Truss, the foreign secretary – said they would look to do “whatever we can” to help people under pressure from rising inflation.
“She’s willing to do more to help people but her focus is around doing it in a way that puts more money in people’s pockets, creating a high-growth economy with higher wages, more people in work,” he said.
“So rather than having handouts, what we do is have a low-tax economy that’s driving growth and therefore with people having more money in their pockets, they’re better placed to deal with some of the challenges that we see.”