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Rishi Sunak Says UK And Global Inflation Rates Are “Utterly Political”

Rishi Sunak gives his first press conference at the G20 Summit in Bali (Alamy)

8 min read

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said the economic shocks experienced by countries across the world are “inherently global” in his first press conference at the G20 Summit this morning as the Office For National Statistics announces record high inflation rates.

Inflation in the UK has hit 11.1 per cent, the highest rate for more than 100 years, according to the latest figures from the ONS, released on Wednesday morning. They noted that the increase was in part due to a rapid rise in gas and electricity prices. 

Speaking in a press conference at the G20 summing in Indonesia, attended by world leaders including US President Joe Biden and China's President  Xi Jinping, Sunak blamed wide-ranging issues hitting the global economy primarily on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

In the wake of a missile strike last night which landed across the Polish border with Ukraine, Sunak said he “stands steadfastly” with Poland and called for the G20 nations to coordinate and cooperate against Vladimir Putin “despite our political differences”.

“When the G20 was established, it was with the acknowledgement that economic shocks are inherently global,” he said.

“This year in particular – as last night’s events laid bare – the challenges we face are utterly political.

“The persistent threat to our security and global economic asphyxiation has been driven by the actions of the one man unwilling to be at this summit – Vladimir Putin.”

Sunak’s comments come before tomorrow’s Autumn Statement, in which Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt will outline his plans on how to steer the UK out of recession in the months ahead. A number of significant tax rises and spending cuts are widely anticipated. 

The Prime Minister said the Chancellor will build on “international foundations” to get public finances on the right footing and reduce government debt. 

He added: “By promoting free markets, forging strong international relationships, and prioritising our stability and security, we will build a global platform for the United Kingdom to thrive – giving the people of our country the certainty that they need.”

Hunt has warned that the UK faces a "tough road ahead", and that Thursday's budget will make for tough listening. But Sunak remained confident that given the economic climate, the public would understand the difficult decisions the government faces. 

"I am confident that when people see the set of decisions in the round, they will see that we have worked incredibly hard to deliver fairness and compassion," he told reporters. 

Responding to the record inflation rates, Sunak said: "My absolute number one priority is making sure that we deal with the economic challenges we face at home." He acknowledged that the rapid rise in the cost of living was  "the thing that's causing most anxiety".

As inflation continues to ramp up and the Chancellor prepares the UK for a looming recession, here is everything you need to know... 

Inflation hits 41-year high due to rising food and energy costs

Inflation in the UK has risen to 11.1 per cent, up from 10.1 per cent last month, reaching the highest rate since 1981.

The 41-year high has largely been driven by rising food prices and soaring energy bills, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Food prices have risen by 16.5 per cent in the year to October due to increases in the costs of milk, cheese, eggs, pasta, and oil.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said it was the government’s “duty” to help the Bank of England reduce inflation “by acting responsibly with the nation’s finances”. 

But he warned that doing so “requires some tough but necessary decisions on tax and spending to help balance the books”.

Fatal missile strike hits Poland near Ukraine border

The international community has condemned a missile strike which hit a village in Poland close to the border with Ukraine.

The incident was most likely an accident, according to NATO, and the Russian defence ministry denied that any Russian missiles hit Polish territory.

Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said: "Preliminary analysis suggests the incident [in Poland] was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks"

Polish President Andrzej Duda had said it was "most likely a Russian-made missile", and Ukraine has also previously blamed Moscow for the strike.

Speaking at the G20 this morning, Sunak refused to say whether he supported US President Joe Biden's view that the missile did not originate in Russia. He said that the UK “stands steadfastly” behind Poland.

G20 Meeting with China president cancelled

A meeting between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit has been cancelled due to emergency meetings over a missile strike in Poland.

It would have been the first bilateral talks between the two nations in five years, but was cancelled due to “movements with timings on both sides”.

“The prime minister obviously thinks it is still important to have that conversation with President Xi,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Sunak has taken a more open tone than Liz Truss when it comes to China, after his predecessor previously called for the nation to be declared as a “threat” to UK security.

Dominic Raab accused of “belittling” civil servants

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has been accused of creating a “culture of fear” during his initial stint at the top of the Ministry of Justice.

Raab has written to the prime minister to request an independent investigation into two formal complaints made against him, saying he "looks forward to addressing the complaints".

A former senior official told Civil Service World, a sister publication to PoliticsHome, that Raab was “known as a bully” in the department, and seemingly made a habit of “intimidating and belittling” civil servants.

Staff also said they felt Raab was “gaslighting” them after he told a recent all-staff meeting that he had a zero-tolerance attitude towards bullying after being reappointed as Justice Secretary by Rishi Sunak.

It is the latest in a string of bullying accusations relating to Raab, who also serves as deputy prime minister. 

Council chief summoned over “unacceptable” mould death

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said it “beggars belief” that the man who oversaw the housing where a two-year-old died due to mould exposure was still in post.

Awaab Ishtak died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to the mould, a coroner has ruled.

Gove has summoned Gareth Swarbrick, chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, to his department to explain the incident.

Awaab was living in a one-bedroom flat in Rochdale, Great Manchester, managed by the local housing association, that had a severe mould problem.

"When you have got a situation where you have a young child in a house that is unfit for human habitation, it is a basic responsibility of the local authority – but particularly the housing association – to make sure that people are in decent homes,” Gove said on Tuesday.

"All this what-aboutery, all this 'Oh, if only we had more government money' – do your job, man."

UK rent prices increase

Private rental prices paid by UK tenants have increased by 3.8 per cent in the last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This is the largest annual percentage increase since the ONS started recording the data in 2016. 

Annual private rental prices increased by 3.7 per cent in England, 3.2 per cent in Wales and 4.2 per cent in Scotland in the 12 months to October 2022, and the East Midlands saw the highest percentage change at 4.8 per cent while London saw the lowest at 3 per cent. 

UK average house prices also increased by 9.5 per cent over the year to September 2022, however, this is down from 13.1 per cent in August 2022.

The average UK house price was £295,000 in September 2022, £26,000 higher than the same time last year.

Trump announces fresh bid for US president

Former US President Donald Trump has announced he will run again as president in 2024, and has vowed that “America’s comeback starts now”.

He told supporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida that he would “fight like no-one has ever fought before” and called his campaign “a quest to save our country".

The former president served one term before losing to Joe Biden in 2020, and is the only president to have been impeached twice.

To run for president, Trump will have to win the Republican party’s nomination, but faces strong opposition from rising star Ron DeSantis, who is governor of Florida.

He has also been widely blamed for the party’s poor showing in the 2022 midterm elections, after the predicted “red wave” of Republican victories failed to materialise. 

In Parliament...

Prime Minister's Questions at 12pm will see Dominic Raab take the place of the prime minister while Sunak is in Bali for the G20 Summit, only hours after he called for an independent inquiry into the formal complaints against his behaviour.

He will go head-to-head with Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner. 

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