'Nobody will begrudge Boris his holiday' insists minister as recession looms

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'Nobody will begrudge Boris his holiday' insists minister as recession looms
'Nobody will begrudge Boris his holiday' insists minister as recession looms

BUSINESS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has admitted he does not know where Boris Johnson is right now.

But the Tory minister has insisted the Prime Minister is still doing his job.

Both Mr Johnson and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi have been criticised for taking holidays at the same time as the Bank of England announced a massive hike in interest rates.

Despite promising to be a “caretaker” Prime Minister until the Tory party picks a new leader, Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie are currently on their honeymoon somewhere in Slovenia.

The Chancellor is said to have spoken to Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey about the increase in the base rate from 1.25 per cent to 1.75%.

The increase is the biggest in 27 years and will increase pressure on households already struggling with the cost of living.

Yesterday, Citizens Advice Scotland warned that people will have to choose between heating and eating over winter.

The UK is expected to fall into recession in the final three months of this year and, the Bank warned, it could last until the end of 2023.

Labour, whose leader Keir Starmer is also on holiday, accused the two of being “missing in action.”

Mr Kwarteng told Times radio, said: “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.”

Speaking to LBC radio, Kwarteng said he believed the chancellor was “completely on top of the situation”.

He added: “He’s completely aware of what’s going on and his officials and he are working very hard to see how best we can generally be we can deal with this.

“I think I think he’s on top of the situation. I think his arrangements are up to him.”

Mr Kwarteng - who is backing Liz Truss in the leadership battle - criticised the Bank’s decision to increase interest rates.

He said the forecast that inflation is expected to peak at 13% in October
was a sign that “something had clearly gone wrong.”

He told Sky News: “The job of the Bank was to deal with inflation. They’ve got a 2% inflation target, that’s actually their mandate. And now inflation is getting double digits. So clearly, something’s gone wrong.”

He added: “I think there is an issue about how the Bank is operating because clearly if I say to you 2% is your target, and you say to me, ‘Well, actually it’s going to hit 13%,’ I would quite rightly say something’s gone wrong. We’ve got to look at how you’re performing.”

Mr Kwarteng also said the Bank should have acted quicker to increase interest rates in an effort to control inflation. He said: “I think there is an argument to suggest the rate should have probably gone up slightly sooner.”

Mr Kwarteng - who has been tipped as the next Chancellor if Ms Truss becomes the next Prime Minister - suggested the government needed to “look again” at the Bank’s mandate.

“You’ve got to look at how the Bank is organised and what the targets are,” he said.

Mr Bailey rejected the criticism. He told the Today programme: “If you go back two years … given the situation we were facing at that point in the context of Covid, in the context of the labour market, the idea that at that point we would have tightened monetary policy, you know I don’t remember there were many people saying that.”


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