The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Rayner hits Johnson where it hurts: Britain’s cost of living crisis.

With Keir Starmer self-isolating after catching coronavirus for the second time in three months, Boris Johnson faced the sparkier figure of Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner at the first prime minister’s questions of the New Year. Johnson wanted to keep the focus on coronavirus, celebrating the success of the booster vaccination rollout and effectively ruling out further restrictions.

It was a message designed to restore his standing among Conservative backbenchers, half of whom voted against the modest restrictions he introduced in response to the Omicron variant. It was enough to pacify them for now, although some made clear that they expected the prime minister to remove the current measures by the end of this month.

Rayner ignored Johnson’s attempt to paint Labour as the party of lockdown, turning her attention to the more fertile ground of Britain’s looming cost of living crisis. Energy prices are set to soar when a price cap comes up for renewal in April, the same month that sees a rise in National Insurance and a freeze on income tax bands.

“In October the prime minister said that fears about inflation were unfounded 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?” she said.

Johnson could have told the truth but he chose the more familiar option.

“Of course I said no such thing, because inflation is always something that we have to be careful about,” he said.

It took a couple of minutes for his quote from a Sky News interview in October to surface: “People have been worried about inflation for a very long time, and those fears have been unfounded.”

Rayner had another quote to hand, this time from Johnson writing in the Sun during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign when he said that leaving the EU would allow Britain to cut VAT on energy bills. She said that Labour, along with a growing number of Conservative MPs, wants him to do just that.

“The prime minister pretends that it is not his fault. He blames the global forces. He blames the markets,” she said.

“The prime minister has made political choices that have led us to this place.”

Johnson blustered on about the help his government had given to poor households before making a hand-brake turn into talking about the Omicron variant. Omicron is moving through Britain so fast that it will soon be gone but Johnson, Rayner and every other MP at Westminster know that the cost of living crisis is just beginning.

Victim of child sexual assault in Oldham says 'an apology means nothing now'.

Victim of child sexual assault in Oldham says 'an apology means nothing now'.

A victim of child sexual assault in Greater Manchester will receive an apology from the police who failed to help her. A review into historic allegations of child sexual exploitation in Oldham, Greater Manchester found the police's treatment towar...

Professor under fire for racist remarks on podcast

Professor under fire for racist remarks on podcast

The University of Pennsylvania began a sanction process for tenured professor Amy Wax over her racist remarks on a podcast. #CNN #News

1 200

Ted Williams on the ‘disrespect’ for police officers in America.

Ted Williams on the ‘disrespect’ for police officers in America.

Former D.C. homicide detective and Fox News Contributor Ted Williams joins ‘Fox News Live’ to provide insight into the NYPD officer killed in a Harlem shooting. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live...

Do you know the changes to the Highway code?

Do you know the changes to the Highway code?

Major changes to the highway code will prioritise pedestrians. horses and cyclists but most drivers aren't aware of them. From next week a driver could be fined up to £1,000 if they don't give a 1.5 metre distance when passing a cyclist on a road,...

Thousands join NHS staff to protest mandatory jabs

Thousands join NHS staff to protest mandatory jabs

Thousands of people have protested in London against mandatory COVID vaccines for NHS staff ahead of the February deadline for the first dose. Government regulations say staff in the health service must be fully jabbed by the 1st of April and ther...

Drone Captures Devastation as Rain, Floods and Landslides Lash Peru.

Drone Captures Devastation as Rain, Floods and Landslides Lash Peru.

Drone footage from Peru captured the extent of the damage brought on by powerful weather conditions, Jan. 21, 2022, in Machu Picchu. Heavy rains caused the Alcamayo River to swell, flooding streets and train tracks in Machu Picchu, the city that c...