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Labour Says Households Face An "Iceberg" Of Rising Bills In PMQs Attack On Cost Of Living Crisis

3 min read

Boris Johnson has defended his government's handling of the economy despite rising inflation rates.

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner told the House of Commons households face an "iceberg" of increased bills as a result of inflation and "political choices" which have forced up energy costs.

Rayner confidently stepped in for Labour leader Keir Starmer at the first Prime Minister's Questions of 2022 after he was again forced to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rayner said the rising cost of living would result in households facing a £1,200 hit in the year ahead, claiming that the Prime Minister had "got it wrong" after he played down inflation fears.

"In October, the Prime Minister said that fears about inflation were unfounded," she said.

"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?"

Johnson said in response he had said "no such thing, because inflation has always been something that we have to be careful about" and that the government was working to protect people going into an "unquestionably" difficult time. 

"That is why we are ensuring we are lifting the living wage by record sums, we make sure people have cold weather payments, making sure they have the warm homes discount and all the other protections," he added. 

"The £500m fund to help local councils look after people through what will be a difficult period. But the most important thing to look after people during this very difficult time is to ensure that we take the balanced and proportional approach that we are to ensure we are able to keep our country and our society going."

But Labour MPs were quick to point out that Johnson had said in an interview on 5 October 2021 that "robust economic growth" meant those fears were "unfounded".

"People have been worried about inflation for a very long time. I'm looking at, robust economic growth. And by the way, those fears have been unfounded," he told Sky News at the time.

Johnson also used the first Commons clash of they year to accuse Labour of failing to back his government's approach to the pandemic, saying his party's "balanced and proportionate" strategy had kept the economy open.

"Because of the steps the Government has taken, because of the balanced and proportionate approach we have taken towards Covid, we have been able to keep the economy open," he said. "They know it, and they opposed it every step of the way."

But Rayner said the government was "giving with one hand and taking away with the other" as she warned rising bills would not make up for the government's support packages.

Asking the Prime Minister if he was "okay", she added: "It's not about brushing your hair, it's about brushing up on your act. Does he accept his incompetence is taking our country backwards and costing our country dearly?"

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