Boris Johnson: what did soon-to-be former Prime Minister say about the cost of living crisis?
Boris Johnson is due to leave office in September, when either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak are inducted as the next Conservative party leader and Prime Minister
However, while the leadership contest is ongoing, the country continues its descent into one of the worst cost of living crises in decades.
Despite this, work to allieviate rising food costs and energy prices has been halted, with parliament currently on summer recess, and Mr Johnson has now confirmed that no action will be taken until a new Prime Minister is chosen by Conservative Party members.
It comes as leaders across the UK put pressure on the government to step in and recall MPs to handle the issue.
What did Boris Johnson say about the cost of living?
A Downing Street official confirmed that no new fiscal measures would be introduced before the Prime Minister is expected to leave office in early September.
However, the spokesman also confirmed that Mr Johnson will be speaking to Chancellor Nadhmi Zahawi prior to leaving his role in order to prioritise policy on the cost of living for later in the year.
Mr Johnson and Mr Zahawi are both reported to currently be on holiday while parliament is in recess.
The spokesman said: “The Government recognised that the end of the year will present wider challenges with things like changes to the (energy) price cap.
“That is why, at the start of the summer, we introduced a number of measures to help the public. Clearly, some of the global pressures have increased since that was announced.
“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.”
What has been the reaction?
Business leaders and opposition politicians have urged Mr Johnson to take action on the cost of living now, before the Ofgem energy price cap is once again raised in October.
Writing in the Daily Record, former Labour MP and Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that an urgent COBRA meeting was essential immediately, adding: “The facts right now are grim: four in every five pensioners, four in every five single parents and four in every five large families face fuel poverty – that’s when their energy bills come to more than 10 per cent of their weekly incomes.
“About 35 million people in 13.5 million households are under threat of fuel poverty in October – that’s an unprecedented 49.6% of the UK.”
His comments were echoed by Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Strugeon, who wrote to Mr Johnson to ask him to meet with UK leaders as soon as possible.
In her letter, she wrote: “You suggested a first meeting of the Heads of Government Council to take place in September.
“However, as I am sure you must recognise, the situation is fast deteriorating and many people across the UK simply cannot afford to wait until September for further action to be taken.
“I am therefore writing to seek an emergency meeting of the Heads of Government Council and propose that we, as leaders of our respective Governments, meet as soon as possible this week to discuss and agree urgent steps to help those in most need now, and also formulate a plan of action for the autumn and winter ahead.”
The Liberal Democrats have called for the planned October energy price cap increase to be cancelled, with leader Sir Ed Davey saying: “This is an emergency, and the Government must step in now to save families and pensioners £1,400 by cancelling the planned rise in energy bills this October.”
Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), joined the calls for action.
He said: “The economic situation people and businesses are facing requires all hands to the pump this summer.
“We simply cannot afford a summer of Government inactivity while the leadership contest plays out followed by a slow start from a new prime minister and cabinet.
“The Prime Minister and Chancellor should be taking the next few weeks to grip the emerging crisis and the planning required to tackle it. This will also give their successor – whomever that may be – the very best chance of getting quickly out of the blocks.”