This week’s PMQs touched on the sexist remarks made against Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, and the cost-of-living crisis, before devolving into classic pre-election mud-slinging and chest-thumping.
Each party leader condemned the comments made against Ms Rayner, but the majority of the session focused on the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
In his opening statement, Labour Leader Keir Starmer brought up predictions that, in the UK, growth will be the lowest, and inflation the highest, of any G7 country. This prediction undermines one of Johnson’s staple responses – nearly every PMQs, without fail, the Prime Minister proudly announces that the UK has the highest growth of any G7 country.
“Our growth is set to be slower than every G20 country except one: Russia. And our inflation is going to be double [that of] the rest of the G7.”
Johnson retorted that the IMF predicts that the UK’s growth will return to being the fastest in the G7 in 2024, and remain the fastest in 2025.
The claim that the rapid growth post-covid was due to good management of the economy was always a dubious one, with the high-growth mostly being due to a bounce back from the drop in GDP that was seen through the pandemic – the largest drop in the G7. While the UK may currently be experiencing the fastest growth in the G7 is still behind other G7 nations with respect to GDP in comparison to pre-covid levels.
Starmer went on to say:
“Working people are worried about paying their bills; they’re spending less and cutting back. That’s bad for business and bad for growth. Working people are looking for help, but this week millions will look at their payslip and see a tax-rise with his fingers all over it.”
“North Sea oil producers are making so much unexpected profit they call themselves a “cash machine”. That cash could be used to keep energy bills down. Instead [Johnson] chooses to protect their profits. Let household bills rocket and slap taxes on working people for earning a living.”
“What [Starmer’s plan to tax oil companies] does is clobbers the very businesses that we need to bring the prices down for people across this country”
Starmer and Johnson then took the chance to make their case ahead of May’s council elections.
“This Tory government has had its head in the sand throughout the cost-of-living crisis. First they let prices get out of control. Then they denied it was happening. They failed to do anything about it, and then they made it worse with higher taxes. Because of [the Prime Minister’s] choices we are set to have the slowest growth and the highest inflation in the G7.”
“A vote for Labour next week is a vote for a very different set of choices. We would ask oil and gas companies to pay their fair share and reduce energy costs. We wouldn’t hammer working people with the worst possible tax at the worst possible time. We’d insulate homes to get bills down, and we’d close the tax avoidance schemes that have helped the chancellor … reduce his own tax bill while putting everyone else’s up.”
“He talks about the elections in a few days time … let me remind him that everywhere you look at a Labour administration it is a bankrupt shambles. Labour run Hammersmith spent £27,000 on EU flags 2 years after the referendum. Labour run Nottingham council bankrupt because of their investment in some ‘communist’ energy plan of the kind that [Starmer] now favours. … Labour run Croyden bankrupt because of their dodgy property deals. … Labour run Britain in 2010 bankrupt because of what the Labour government did.”
“Vote conservative on the 5th of May.”
Ian Blackford opened by bringing up disturbing statistics that “830,000 children across the UK are being left to depend on emergency food parcels.” before encouraging people to vote for his own party.
“If the [Prime Minister] is genuinely looking for ideas to tackle this tory-made crisis, it would be wiser to look beyond his cabinet colleagues, who of course know he won’t be there for very much longer. … Here’s an idea for the Prime Minister. The Scottish government has introduced, and now doubled, the Scottish child payment of at least £1040 a year, helping those families who have been the hardest hit.”
“We have children facing poverty… and we get nothing but empty words from the Prime Minister; it was plenty of despereate pre-election waffle that we heard earlier.”
“It becomes clearer by the day that the Prime Ministers supposed plan to fight the tory-made cost-of-living crisis is not only non-fiscal; it’s non-existent.”
“Here are three other ideas for the Prime Minister that would help families with soaring costs, right now. Scrap his national insurance tax hike, reverse the tory cuts to universal credit, and match Scotland’s 6% benefits rise instead of imposing a real-term cut.”
“If he fails to act now the voters will send him and his sleaze-ridden party a message by voting SNP next Thursday.”