Speaking in Westminster last week, Rachael Maskell MP asked the Prime Minister when he will start protecting the people of York’s livelihoods instead of protecting his own lifestyle. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has refused to take accountability and apologise for recent Downing Street parties after the release of Sue Gray’s report which was published earlier this week. Downing Street repeatedly broke lockdown rules by holding parties at the height of the pandemic, while the people of York pulled together and followed the rules. In stark contrast to the stories of suitcases of alcohol being wheeled into Downing Street, many people in York are struggling to afford to pay their bills and put food on the table. Ms Maskell told the Prime Minister that York has one of the highest rents in the country and is facing a cost-of-living crisis.
This is how Hansard reported the exchange:
Rachael Maskell MP:
Thank you Mr Speaker. The problem with a distracted Prime Minister is that he makes the wrong choices. While he has been living it up, many of my constituents are living on the breadline as food, energy and taxes shoot up. In York the rent prices are the highest now in the North and some of the highest in the country and York is now in the top ten places in the country where there is a cost of living crisis, pushing my constituents further into poverty and debt. So when is he going to stop protecting himself and start protecting my constituents.
Boris Johnson MP:
Mr Speaker, one of the first things I did when I became Prime Minister was to ensure we looked after people on low income by increasing local housing allowances, Mr Speaker, by increasing the living wage, not once but twice and by record amounts. Mr Speaker, and, of course by doing what we’ve now done with universal credit. But the most important, I really think the House needs to get this, the most important thing about the UK economy right now is we have a strong jobs led recovery and that is what is going to drive up wages, and drive up productivity and dive up growth and that is what this Government is delivering.
Speaking afterwards Ms Maskell said:
“The Prime Minister just doesn’t get it. The number of people in York needing help from food banks has increased dramatically over the last two years and with energy prices set to soar this will only continue. The cost of food in the shops is increasing, supermarkets are selling smaller portions for last year’s prices. House prices have increased massively, putting the cost of owning your own home out of most people’s reach and rents have soared. On top of that fuel bills are increasing, which will also add to the cost of food. Local authorities are starved of cash and so council taxes are increasing to pay for essential services, and national insurance is rising. And yet the Prime Minister tells me the Government are looking after people on low incomes.
The fact is, the Prime Minister is not doing anywhere near enough to support families that are struggling. He could cut VAT on fuel. He could postpone the national insurance increase; he could show he understood and cared about the people he is meant to represent, who are now struggling, more than ever.
But like his deplorable reaction to the investigation into the parties at Number 10, the same can be said for his reaction to my question in Parliament today, we have a cost of living crisis,