Instead Of Tackling The Cost Of Living Crisis, The Tories Are Hopelessly Distracted By Scandal And Westminster Parlour Games

Labour leader calls for a one-off windfall tax on the oil and gas producers.
Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images

All across the country, people are worried about rising prices.

Whether it’s at the supermarket, the petrol pump or when bills land on the door mat, we are all feeling the pinch.But the residents of Downing Street seem to be living in a parallel universe.

Because as the cost of living increases, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are nowhere to be seen.

They still don’t seem to have woken up to the fact that ordinary families simply can’t afford yet more spiralling bills.

Or that it is their incompetence and failure to plan ahead that has left us woefully exposed to this crisis.

Or that their promise that wage rises would sort out any problems have proven to be exactly what we said they were – a fantasy.

It beggars belief that as energy bills skyrocket, their big idea is a damaging tax hike for every working family in the country, landing this April.

Taken alongside all the other pressures, it means that average bills are due to rise overnight by £1,200.

Where on earth do they think people will get that sort of cash from? After all, we don’t all have wealthy donors we can tap up every time we need some new wallpaper.

The Tories’ double-whammy for hard-pressed households comes at the time when people can least afford it.

For some, it could be a knockout blow. If there’s one thing that sums up the chaos at the heart of Government, it’s the fact the Chancellor has apparently been going round telling Tory MPs it’s “the Prime Minister’s tax rise”.

Rishi Sunak argued for it, he voted for it, he signed it off. But now his backbenchers have told him they won’t let him be leader if he persists with it, he wants to wash his hands of it.

At a time when the Government should be leading the charge against the pressures people face, they are hopelessly distracted by scandal of their own making and Westminster parlour games.

But while the Tories spend their time insulting the British people’s intelligence with ridiculous denials and defences of their behaviour, Labour is coming up with serious plans for the serious problems facing the country.

Firstly, we’d scrap VAT on energy bills for every single household in the country.

The Government has been raking in additional receipts as prices have shot up.

We’d redress the balance back towards bill payers.

Then, we’d use targeted action to save most households around £200 a year, or up to £600 for those who need it most, including low earners and pensioners.

We’d pay for this through a one-off windfall tax on the oil and gas producers who’ve made a fortune from rising prices.

After all, it’s only fair that we ensure companies who describe themselves as “literally a cash machine” aren’t profiting from the squeezed finances of British households.

Labour’s plan to help people with the cost of living is simple. It’s fully costed. It would provide immediate help for millions.

But for some reason the Government is standing idly by as working people pay the price.

The contrast couldn’t be starker: A Labour party focused on security, prosperity and respect for the British people.

A Tory party so bogged down in sleaze and scandal that it has lost the ability to govern.

It’s time for the Government to stop focusing on themselves and get on with the job in hand.

Since Rachel Reeves announced our plan, there have been two weeks of Parliamentary activity.

During both those weeks, the House of Commons ended its business early.

Apparently, the Government simply thought there was nothing left to discuss, so they packed up and went home for the weekend.

If the Tories wanted to help people, they’d find time for a vote on Labour’s plan this week.

There is plenty of important work going on. But when it comes to Parliament, where there is a will there is a way.

It’s simply a matter of making it happen. And I can guarantee the Prime Minister that it would be the easiest vote he’s ever held.

Labour MPs would turn up en masse to vote it through. By the weekend, people across the country would sleep a little easier knowing that there was a proper plan coming to provide them with the breathing space they need.

Only Boris Johnson stands in the way of this.

So my message to him is simple. End the dither. End the delay. End the nonsense. Get on with backing Labour’s plan to help millions of people across the country.

Keir Starmer is the the MP for Holborn and St Pancras and leader of the Labour Party.


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