21 June 2023

Sunak taking ‘honesty lessons from Boris Johnson’ on living costs, says SNP MP

21 June 2023

The Prime Minister has taken his “honesty lessons from Boris Johnson”, the SNP has suggested.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn questioned Rishi Sunak’s “economic optimism” over recent months, as data has revealed the pressure on households from rising costs has not eased over the last month.

Consumer Prices Index inflation stayed at 8.7% in May, the same level as in April, despite experts forecasting a fall to 8.4%.

The Office for National Statistics meanwhile said the increase in food prices slowed from 19.1% in April to 18.4% in May after hitting a 45-year high in March.

In the Commons, Mr Flynn said: “In February the Prime Minister told this here House that borrowing costs are back to where they should be, in March he boasted we are on track to halve inflation by the end of the year, and in May he then said economic optimism is increasing.

Britain is broken, I have said for years after their EU referendum. Will he finally it admit that it was Brexit that broke it?

“Given the dire economic reality of today, is it not now clear that he has taken his honesty lessons from Boris Johnson?

Rishi Sunak replied: “He also failed to mention that not just the Bank of England, not just the OBR, not just the OECD, but also the IMF, all of them have upgraded their growth outlook for the United Kingdom economy this year.

“Whilst he and others were predicting this country would enter a recession, the actions of this Government have meant that we have so far averted that, and we continue to be on track to keep reducing inflation because that is the right economic priority.”

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle warned Mr Flynn to be a “little bit more cautious” and not imply Mr Sunak had intentionally misled MPs.

Former prime minister Mr Johnson was recently found by a cross-party committee of MPs to have misled Parliament about his knowledge of the partygate scandal.

The SNP Westminster leader continued: “Listening to the Prime Minister’s answer I don’t think he quite grasps the reality of the economic situation facing households across these isles, but how could he?”

Mr Flynn added: “But it doesn’t need to be like this, it didn’t need to be like this, because mortgage deals in Ireland, they are not sitting in excess of 6%, they are around about 4.5%. Inflation in the euro area, that is not sitting at 8.7%, it is sitting at closer to 6%.

“Britain is broken, I have said for years after their EU referendum. Will he finally it admit that it was Brexit that broke it?”

Mr Sunak insisted that interest rates in the UK were at similar levels to the US, Canada and Australia.

The Prime Minister added: “The rise in inflation and interests rates is a global phenomenon.

“But that is why early I set out that it was the right economic priority to have to bring inflation down, that is what this Government would do.

“But that requires difficult and responsible decisions. That is what leadership looks like, I don’t think the SNP will ever do the same thing.”

Elsewhere during PMQs, Labour former minister Kevin Brennan accused Mr Sunak of being “weak”.

He said: “So just to recap, during this Parliament, we have had one Tory prime minister who turned out to be a proven liar, a second Tory prime minister who was outlasted by a lettuce. After this week’s pathetic no-show by the Prime Minister, what one word would he use to describe himself?

“Might it be weak?”

The PM replied: “What’s weak is the party opposite being unable to stand up to the people who fund them and stand behind hard-working families in this country.”

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