Boris Johnson has been dubbed ‘the comedic Ali of the cost-of-living crisis’ by Keir Starmer, who has accused the government of sticking its head in the sand and staying away as inflation escalates soars and taxes rise for many.
The comparison to the former Iraqi minister who gained cult status for his outrageous lies came during a surly Prime Minister’s Questions, with Starmer saying Johnson was complacent about people’s “blindly obvious” economic problems.
The Labor leader said a mooted plan to allow motorists to get MOTs lasting two years instead of one made the ill-fated 1990s ‘cone hotline’ ‘visionary and inspiring’. He said Johnson was “just waking up to the cost of living crisis” and acted like an ostrich.
Johnson accused Starmer of “buzzing” and dismissed his call for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to help lower people’s energy bills, saying: “This guy is bound to be a permanent spectator.
In their final public speeches ahead of next week’s local elections, the two leaders traded blows during a session that focused mainly on the economy.
Johnson was approached over an anonymous briefing by a Tory MP to the Mail on Sunday accusing Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner of crossing and uncrossing her legs in the Commons chamber to distract the Prime Minister.
Starmer said the UK was on track to have the slowest growth and highest inflation in the G7, and he said Johnson was failing to manage the economy properly.
In a series of targeted questions aimed at blaming the government for the cost of living crisis, Starmer said ministers were making life worse for working people with last month’s ‘tax hike budget’ and in no way not helping those whose fuel bills have skyrocketed. .
“They are the party of excessive profits, we are the party of workers,” Starmer said.
He accused ministers of letting prices “spin out of control”, denying it was happening and doing nothing about it. “A vote for Labor next week is a vote for a very different set of choices,” Starmer said.
He said his party would ask oil and gas companies to pay their share of tariffs, insulate homes to reduce bills and end tax avoidance schemes by scrapping non-dom status.
But Johnson repeatedly called Starmer ‘Captain Hindsight’, saying the cost of living crisis was affecting people around the world and insisting: ‘This government is tackling it’.
He said the recently published energy security strategy would “right the wrongs of the previous Labor government” by pushing for a new nuclear power station to be built every year instead of every decade.
Johnson rejected the windfall tax on offshore energy companies, saying it would “destroy the very companies we need to invest in energy to drive down prices for people across the country.”
The Prime Minister said a record number of jobs were being created and the Tory’s plans were better than Labor’s “by a mile”.
He added: “Never forget, Labor led Britain in 2010 – bankrupt because of what the Labor government did. They said they had no more money.