PMQs: Starmer compares Boris Johnson to 'Jabba the Hutt'

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Boris Johnson has suffered a decline in support according to recent polls with the Partygate scandal and soaring living costs eating into the Prime Minister’s approval ratings. Mr Johnson has been advised to now act over rising prices and energy bills to be seen once again as a man of action who was backed to get things done when he was swept to power on the back of the Red Wall vote in 2019. 

“I think he needs to go back to that position of being seen by voters, being seen by the public, being seen by those people in the red wall, as the kind of person who can get things done once again.

“At the moment, given that the biggest problem facing voters in this country is cost of living, rising energy prices.

“He doesn’t seem to be getting anything done by voters to help them on that really crucial issue.”

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The cost of living has been soaring for months, with consumer prices index (CPI) inflation hitting a 40-year high of 9 percent in April when the energy price cap was hiked.

But things are set to get even worse later this year, with the Bank of England raising its peak inflation prediction for October – when energy prices could go up even further – from 10 percent to over 11 percent.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced multi-billion pound help for struggling households, much of which is set to come in when energy bills rise again in October.

In a TV interview, the Chancellor pointed to the lifting of the threshold at which employees start to pay national insurance in a few weeks as he insisted the “direction of travel is to reduce people’s taxes”.

 

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But he appeared to reject further short-term tax cuts, telling ITV News: “I will make sure that I handle our borrowing and debt responsibly so that we don’t make the situation worse and increase mortgage rates more than they otherwise are going to have to go up.”

The Chancellor added that people should be “reassured” that inflation will be tamed through “constrained borrowing and debt”, action by the Bank of England and measures such as improving energy supply.

“People should feel confident that we will get through this, we will get inflation down and strong growth will return,” he said.

Mr Sunak and Michael Gove have appeared to indicate that fellow Conservative MPs pushing for tax cuts would have to wait as such measures could fuel runaway inflation.

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The Chancellor told the Bank’s Governor Andrew Bailey that fiscal policy must remain “responsible” and not “exacerbate” inflation.

In a letter to Mr Bailey, Mr Sunak wrote: “This is why, in responding to urgent cost of living pressures that people are facing, I announced a series of measures which are timely, targeted, and temporary to help households manage the squeeze on real incomes whilst not adding unnecessarily to inflation”.

Communities Secretary Mr Gove later said he agreed with Mr Sunak that tax cuts should be shelved until inflation is brought down.

Asked if that would have to wait until 2024, Mr Gove told TalkTV: “The Chancellor has the right policy… He can’t spend all of the public money that many would wish to and which, in a perfect world, we’d like to”.

He added: “You’ve got to make sure that you balance the books at a government level”.

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