Sir Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of being ‘out of touch’ on cost of living crisis over ‘Elsie’ response

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·3-min read
Sir Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of being ‘out of touch’ on cost of living crisis over ‘Elsie’ response
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Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of being “out of touch” on the cost of living crisis after the prime minister was forced to admit the Government could do more to help struggling families.

On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Johnson was challenged about the case of a 77-year-old viewer named Elsie, who has seen her energy bill soar and cut down to one meal a day.

During an interview with Susanna Reid, Mr Johnson was told how Elsie spends the day travelling on buses to stay out of her home and keep her bills down.

Mr Johnson responded: “The 24-hour freedom bus pass was actually something that I actually introduced.”

His comments drew criticism from the Labour leader, who claimed the prime minister had failed to grasp the seriousness of the cost of living situation for millions of Britons.

Speaking to reporters in Bitterne Village, Southampton, he said: “Elsie was describing the human impact of the cost-of-living crisis on her and how she has to ride on the buses just to keep warm, and for the Prime Minister to say you should be grateful to have a pass, how out of touch can you be, how out of ideas can you be, how out of excuses can you be.

GMB presenter Susannah Reid raised the plight of Elsie, whose energy costs in her council flat have risen from £17 to £85 a month (ITV)
GMB presenter Susannah Reid raised the plight of Elsie, whose energy costs in her council flat have risen from £17 to £85 a month (ITV)

“I think if ever there was a reason to send the Prime Minister a message in these elections, Elsie is the reason.”

Shadow health minister Wes Streeting tweeted: “ It’s embarrassing that Boris Johnson doesn’t know who Lorraine Kelly is.

“But it’s atrocious that he had no answer to 77 year old Elsie who rides around on buses all day to keep warm because she can’t afford the heating bills. That’s the real scandal here.”

Shadow foreign minister David Lammy said: “Imagine responding to a story about a 77 year old woman who sits on buses all day because she can’t afford heating by boasting that you made it easier for her to sit on buses.

“Tone-deaf, arrogant and out of touch, in a cost of living crisis.

Boris Johnson interviewed by Susanna Reid on GMB (ITV GMB)
Boris Johnson interviewed by Susanna Reid on GMB (ITV GMB)

The Labour party has called for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies in the North Sea to help households cope with higher fuel bills. Oil giant BP reported a £4.9bn underlying profit in the first three months of the year.

They have proposed an increase of 10 percentage points on corporation tax for North Sea oil and gas producers, claiming this would help raise £1.2bn to help struggling households.

Britons have seen their energy bills rise by 54 per cent since April 1, when regulator Ofgem raised its price cap.

Downing Street promised that there would be “more help coming” to reduce cost of living pressures.

A No10 spokesperson said work was ongoing across government to see what departments could do to “ease some of the immediate pressures”. Reports have suggested that this could include scrapping annual MoT tests in favour of one every two years.

In other developments, Sir Keir dismissed calls to investigate a photograph showing him drinking a beer indoors during lockdown last April in the Durham constituency office of local MP Mary Foy.

He accused the Tories of “mud-slinging” ahead of the local elections by calling for police to open an investigation into whether lockdown rules were broken.

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