Boris Johnson is “completely on top” of everything, a cabinet minister insisted today as Britain faces a recession and soaring inflation.
The prime minister and chancellor Nadhim Zahawi are both on holiday after the Bank of England made a series of gloomy predictions.
But business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was on the airwaves this morning, insisting that the two men are working.
Yesterday the Bank warned that Brits face two years of tumbling household incomes with inflation set to soar to more than 13 per cent and the economy plunging into the longest recession since the financial crisis.
“I don’t know where Boris is, but I’m in constant contact with him. He’s just had a wedding, I think he’s on a honeymoon and...I don’t think many people will begrudge him that.”
Kwarteng described the situation as a “global crisis” and insisted that the chancellor was “always available”.
He told Sky News: “The chancellor of the exchequer is always available...
“I’m in contact with him. I’ve just spoken to him on WhatsApp this morning.
“He’s completely abreast of what’s going on. I’m the business secretary, I’m here in your studio, I’m in a suit. I’m not on holiday.
“And we’re absolutely focused on trying to deal with this problem.”
When it was put to him that we would expect to see the country’s leaders when people were suffering, he replied: “Well, I’m the business secretary, I’m here and in regular contact with prime minister and chancellor.
“They’re completely on top of what’s happening.”
Labour has accused Johnson and Zahawi of being “missing in action” as the full scale of the meltdown facing he UK’s economy became apparent.
The PM went on holiday on Wednesday and is not expected to be back at his desk until next week.
On Times Radio, Kwarteng said he did not know where Johnson is, adding: “He’s just had a wedding, I think he’s on a honeymoon and...I don’t think many people will begrudge him that.”
Zahawi, who took over as chancellor a month ago following the resignation of Rishi Sunak, is away with his family and was not available for broadcast interviews in the wake of Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey’s grim prediction.
However, the pair did hold a call with to discuss the depressing forecasts and the government’s economic plans.
Zahawi said: “For me, like I’m sure lots of others, there is no such thing as a holiday and not working. I never had that in the private sector, not in government. Ask any entrepreneur and they can tell you that.
“Millions of us dream about getting away with our families but the privilege and responsibility of public service means that you never get to switch off, that’s why I have had calls and briefings every day and continue to do so.”
It comes as Britons face two years of tumbling household incomes with inflation set to soar to more than 13 per cent and the economy plunging into the longest recession since the financial crisis.
The Bank of England made the grim prediction as it raised interest rates from 1.25 per cent to 1.75 per cent, the biggest increase for 27 years.
The move, aimed at controlling runaway inflation, puts further pressure on mortgage holders.
In a dire outlook for UK economy, the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) forecast inflation peaking at 13.3 per cent in October, the highest for more than 42 years.
The runaway costs are largely due to the soaring price of energy, as the fallout from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine forced gas prices skywards.
Regulator Ofgem is expected to push up the cap on household energy bills to around £3,450 in October, the Bank said.