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'How do you economise Prime Minister?' Boris denies he's out of touch with household costs

12 May 2022, 07:13 | Updated: 12 May 2022, 07:56

Boris Johnson denied he is out of touch with ordinary Brits struggling to pay bills
Boris Johnson denied he is out of touch with ordinary Brits struggling to pay bills. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has tried to shrug off accusations his government is out of touch will ordinary Brits who are struggling with the cost of living crisis.

The Prime Minister told LBC's Nick Ferrari that he wakes up "every day" thinking about how to help people.

But he was unable to say what the energy price cap, designed to limit spiralling costs of heating and electricity bills, was set at.

Nor could he conjure what the price of a pack of nappies would cost despite recently becoming a father again.

His comments to Nick, en route back from a visit to Finland, come as he and his wealthy Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, face calls to do more to help people scrambling to pay their bills and buy food.

Refusing to be drawn on how much a pack of Pampers nappies cost, Mr Johnson said: "I wake up every day thinking about what we can do to help people through this period, just as we helped people through COVID.

"I think a fair-minded person would say that when it came to it, the UK Government stepped up to the plate and came up with some pretty imaginative schemes to get people through the crisis. We had the biggest fall in output for 300 years.

"We came up with the COVID programme and many other forms of support. Now, that has, in turn, led to a real fiscal problem and so our room for manoeuvre is not as big as I would like, but we will do what we can to help."

Mr Johnson said he would "not get into" what the energy price cap is, when asked to say what he believed it to be by Nick.

"You have a supremely rich Chancellor of the Exchequer with a non-dom wife... Can you tell me you are in touch with people? For instance, you've referenced children, more than one occasion. A price of 24 Pampers nappies at Boots. How much?" Nick asked.

Mr Johnson said: "I'm not going to get into…

Nick said: "Well, okay. How do you economise?

Mr Johnson replied: "What I can tell you is that we will do everything we can to help people through a difficult time. And yes, I think that it is vital that we focus our fiscal firepower on those who need help the most."

Read more: Boris tells LBC 'we will get through cost of living crisis' as he vows to support Brits

He promoted the Government's existing steps, which have been derided by critics as insufficient. He pointed to National Insurance contribution cuts in July, help for council tax bills and assistance with paying energy bills.

And he said "there is more coming down the track… July and so on", but did not go into detail.

Claims of an emergency budget have been shot down publicly by Conservatives. The PM added that strong employment would help the UK recover from the pandemic.

Mr Johnson said: "We have an aftershock, an economic aftershock of COVID that is caused by supply chain problems, but also, particularly by the energy prices spike. So to come to the second point, that we need to do to help people and you talk about the Queen's Speech, Nick. You're right.

"But what the Queen's Speech is about is addressing the supply side issues, whether it's on the cost of housing, whether it's above or on the cost of energy, say nothing of transport infrastructure and all the other things that erode people's weekly budgets.

"If we can fix our energy supply issues, we will be doing something massive, not just in the medium term, but for the long term for our country."

Nick's interviews with the PM are being streamed during Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on the Global Player, with Mr Johnson's views on Ukrainian refugees and Partygate coming later this morning.

He had already asked Mr Johnson, in Finland, about desperate measures Brits were turning to in order to avoid spiralling energy costs.

Read more: Britain will help Nordic nations fight Putin as Boris unveils historic double defence deal

He said: "No country on the planet has sent more financial aid, military aid, to Ukraine, than the UK.

"Reports of £2 billion and rising, yet back home we hear the pensioners spend all day at home in the library because they can’t afford to heat their home, and one man set fire to his driftwood to try and get warm.

"To those who say you are very good at supporting Ukraine, but you are lamentably poor at supporting your own people, how would you respond?"

Read more: Fury as Tory MP claims Brits don't need food banks they just 'can't cook properly'

"What we’ve got to do right now is help people through the aftershocks of the Covid pandemic, just as we helped people through Covid, and we will," he replied.

"Everybody knows how tough it can be right now, but we are going to get through it, just as we got through Covid.

"And you know all the money we're already spending, there will be more of course, there will be more support in the months ahead as things continue to tough with the increase in the energy prices."

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