In a tense Prime Minister Question’s (PMQs) on Wednesday, Boris Johnson’s government was accused of deciding to “let gas storages collapse” and now the average family face an annual hit of £1,200 as a result of their decisions.
Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner stood on for Sir Keir Starmer as he has come down with Covid, said that Johnson’s “fears about inflation were unfounded.”
Rayner told MPs, “In October the Prime Minister said that fears about inflation were unfounded, but working people across the country are starting the New Year facing rising bills and ballooning prices, so how did he get it so wrong?”
Boris Johnson replied and said, “Of course I said no such thing because inflation is always something that we have to be careful about, but what we are doing is making sure that we protect the people of this country throughout what is unquestionably going to be a difficult period, and that’s why we are ensuring that we’ve lifted the Living Wage by record sums, we make sure people have cold weather payments, making sure that they have the warm homes discount…
“The most important thing we can do to look after people during this very difficult time is to ensure that we take the balanced and proportionate approach that we are, to ensure that we’re able to keep our country and our society going and that is exactly what we are doing.
“That is why we doubled down on the booster programme and that is why we are sticking with Plan B, that’s the right approach for the country.”
She then called on the Prime Minister to “get a grip” on the real cost of living and said that “inflation is about to hit 6%,” which is “the highest rate since the early 90s.”
She described Johnson as “a Prime Minister losing the support of his backbenches.”
“The Prime Minister promised wage rises would offset inflation, they haven’t and they won’t. Millions of British workers now face a pay cut and the chancellor is now giving them a tax hike – what is the prime minister doing to get a grip on this?” Rayner asks.
Johnson said they are getting on with boosting the economy and added, that “If we listened to them, we wouldn’t have anybody working at all.”
Rayner joked and told the House of Commons, “I’ve heard on the grapevine there might be a vacancy for prime minister soon so maybe I should have aspirations.”
Rayner said, “The Prime Minister pretends it is not his fault, he blames the global forces, he blames the market.
“We are an aspirational party, maybe the Prime Minister needs to be more aspirational for this country.
“But, the Prime Minister has made political choices that has led us into this place. His Government has failed to invest in long-term energy security, his Government decided to let gas storages collapse.
“His Government let the energy market run out of control. 27 energy companies have gone bust in the last year. And now, household bills are going through the roofs.”
She added, “Can the Prime Minister see what is happening yet again? Working families are picking up the tab for his incompetence.
Johnson said, “She talks about energy. I think the House would agree that she has got a lot more energy than the current leader of the opposition.
“I welcome her point because actually what the Government is doing is supporting people throughout the pandemic. 2.2m supported with the Warm Home Discounts, worth £140 per week which we introduced.
“Pensioners supported with the £300 Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments worth £25 a week for four million people up and down the country.
“That is what we are doing.”