Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended the first round of questions to the Prime Minister of 2022. He gave a strong indication that there will be no further lockdowns – but declined to support calls to cut fuel prices.
Here are five highlights from today’s PMQs:
1) Labor leader Keir Starmer has Covid – again
Labor Vice-Leader Angela Starmer was tasked this week with interviewing Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
That’s because their party leader Keir Starmer is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19. He did lateral flow tests every day and the result was positive. He last tested positive in October when he was forced to miss PMQs and the chance to act on budget.
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2) No more Covid restrictions for the foreseeable future.
Boris Johnson told the Commons: “We are sticking to Plan B. This is the right approach for the country.”
And he boasted that the government’s approach of providing “booster vaccines” while avoiding lockdowns saved jobs and helped businesses. It suggests there will be no more bans – or at least Mr Johnson hopes to avoid them.
3) Angela Rayner wants to become Prime Minister
The Labor vice-chairman mocked Mr Johnson, saying, “I heard there might be a post for Prime Minister soon, so maybe I should have ambitions.”
Their intention was to indicate that Conservative MPs are unhappy with the Prime Minister’s performance and plan to fire him.
However, Labor’s candidate to replace Mr Johnson is of course Sir Keir. Maybe she didn’t mean it, but Ms. Rayner looked like she should take the job instead.
4) No reduction in VAT on fuel
Labor urges the government to lower VAT on fuel to help households cope with rising prices.
Ms. Rayner said, “Even Tory backbenchers have finally accepted Labor’s call to lower VAT on energy bills.”
But Mr. Johnson refused to respond directly to it. Instead, he simply pointed out that Labor was in favor of staying in the EU – and EU rules actually prevented the UK from exempting VAT on fuel (by the way, the Conservative Party also supported staying in the EU, despite Mr Johnson was an exception).
That may be true, but it does not prevent Mr Johnson’s administration from doing something about VAT on fuel now. Instead, it was a pretty obvious attempt to change the subject.
5) The work focuses on the rising cost of living
Angela Rayner made it clear that Labor thinks voters are concerned about rising prices. She said: “The Prime Minister made a promise that wage increases would offset inflation. They haven’t and they won’t.”
And she said, “The prices of everyday goods are getting out of hand.”
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