The Speaker
Thursday, 30 November 2023 – 04:48

PMQs: Keir Starmer attacks Boris Johnson over energy loans

“If it looks like a loan, and quacks like a loan…” The Government were heavily criticised for national tax increase and energy cap plans, while Starmer accuses Boris of being lax on fraud in yet another heated Prime Minister’s Questions.

Boris Johnson opened PMQs with an optimistic prediction for the coming months:

“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we’ll be able to end the last domestic restrictions, including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive, a full month early.”

Starmer opened by pressing the prime minister on what the government was doing to combat fraud, quoting cabinet ministers saying that scams were not things that affected the day-to-day lives of British people and the business secretary calling fraud “not a real crime”. Before criticising the government’s recent plan to deal lessen the impact of recent price cap increases.

Starmer said:

“We’ve had lockdowns for the last two years. Two crimes that people could commit were online fraud, and throwing parties! As far as I can see the numbers for both of those have gone through the roof!”

“The business secretary casually suggests on TV “don’t worry, it’s not real crime.”

“What’s the chancellors response? Write off 4 billion pounds in losses and block an investigation by the national crime agency. His cabinet turning a blind eye to scammers.”

“Is it any wonder that his anti-fraud minister realised no one in government seemed to care and threw in the towel?”

“Talking of scams. Households are going to have to fork out another 19 billion pounds on their energy bills. The government is insulting people’s intelligence by pretending it’s giving them a discount.”

“It’s a con. A buy now pay-later scheme. A dodgy loan, not a proper plan. … Let me put this in language he might understand. When his donors give him cash to fund his lifestyle, and tell him he has to pay it back later, are they giving him a loan, or a discount?”

“His ‘plan’ is to hand billions of pounds of taxpayers cash to energy companies, and then force families to pay it off in installments for years to come. If it sounds like he’s forcing people to take out a loan, and it looks like he’s forcing people to take out a loan, isn’t he just forcing people to take out a loan?”

Johnson responded:

“Our plan to tackle the cost-of-living is faster, more generous and more efficient than anything Labour has set out”

“We’ve lifted the living wage by record amounts, we’ve cut the effective tax for people on universal credit and we’re now setting out a fantastic plan to help people with the cost of energy”

“What Labour would be doing is hitting the energy companies at precisely the moment that we need to encourage them to go for more gas because we need to transition to cleaner fuels”

Last week the chancellor announced the government’s plan to lessen the impact of energy price cap increases, which would involve around £350 pounds, as a one-off payment, for around 28 million households across the UK, but £200 of that would be paid back across 5 years. Labour’s plan was to increase the warm homes discount by £400 and extend the scheme to cover 9 million homes. They also wanted to scrap VAT on energy bills, which would have saved all households around £90 per year.

Leader of the SNP in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford, said:

“Yesterday, open democracy, found as a direct result of the chancellor’s national insurance hike, nurses will, on average, take a £275 a year pay cut in April. That pay cut will hit at the very same moment that soaring energy bills will shoot up. It is a bill they, and the rest of the public, simply cannot afford.”

“Rather than the prime minister and the chancellor scrapping over the tory leadership, will they do something useful and scrap their regressive hike on national insurance?”

Johnson responded:

“We’re recruiting 50,000 more nurses. There are 11,000 more this year than there were last year. We’ve increased the starting salary for nurses by 12.8%.”

“We value our nurses, we love our NHS, and we’re paying for it!”

To which Blackford said:

“Actions speak louder than words. If he wants to rewards them then he needs to pay them!”

“I shouldn’t have to remind the prime minister that, while the nurses were going into work everyday to fight the pandemic, 16 different parties were happening in his government”

“The public know what nurses sacrificed during the pandemic, and they know exactly what this rule breaking prime minister and his government were up to. Are the prime minister and his chancellor that the reward for seeing us through this pandemic is a £275 pay cut?”

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