Shortages may last until Christmas, Boris admits

4 October 2021

7:20 AM

4 October 2021

7:20 AM

The Conservative party conference is just beginning in Manchester and, as is tradition, the Prime Minister sat down with Andrew Marr to discuss some of the most important issues facing the country. Marr began by asking about the case of Sarah Everard, who was abducted, raped and murdered by serving policeman Wayne Couzens. Johnson told Marr that the police as a whole are ‘overwhelmingly trustworthy’ and that he would ‘stop at nothing’ to reform the criminal justice system in order to ‘get more rapists behind bars’:


‘Wages are growing’

Marr challenged Johnson over statistics that he gave on the state of the economy. The Prime Minister claimed that after ‘ten years of flatlining’ paycheques, lower earners were seeing their wage packages grow as employers suffer a labour shortage.

The PM explained that issues in abattoirs and on petrol station forecourts were a necessary condition of reaching higher wages — and he pledged that his government would not return to the era of ‘uncontrolled immigration’ to help mitigate the lack of workers. However, the PM did concede that there was a possibility that shortages could run until Christmas if the crisis failed to abate in the coming weeks (although the Tory party chair promised in a separate interview that people ‘will have their turkeys for Christmas’, see below).

Marr disputed the central pillar of Johnson’s argument, claiming instead that increasing wages are being cancelled out by a rise in the price of goods. The broadcaster cited data from the Office for National Statistics that shows that wage growth is yet to match rising inflation:

#Marr: “You’ve said something that isn’t true I’m afraid”#Marr challenges Boris Johnson over ONS figures showing UK wages not keeping pace with inflation

PM: “After more than 10 years of flat lining wages… people on low incomes are being paid more”

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 3, 2021

‘Have no fear… I do not want to raise taxes again’

Marr tried to pin down Johnson on taxes, saying that the PM was presiding over the highest level of taxation in the broadcaster’s lifetime. The Conservatives pledged in 2019 not to raise the rates of income tax, VAT or National Insurance, but the government’s last budget introduced a hike in National Insurance to pay for NHS shortfalls, which will later transform into a ‘health and social care levy’. Johnson argued that the increase was needed in order to be ‘responsible’ with the public finances:

#Marr: Are you going to raise taxes yet again in the budget?

Boris Johnson: “You have no fiercer and more zealous opponent of unnecessary tax rises than me”

“If I can possibly avoid it, I do not want to raise taxes again”#Marr

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 3, 2021

Andy Burnham — ‘I agree’ Keir Starmer is doing a ‘good job’

Marr also interviewed the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham. With Keir Starmer having a mixed conference of his own last week, Marr asked Burnham about the speculation that he could be after the Labour leader’s job:

Andy Burnham has dismissed speculation that he is unhappy with Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership

The Greater Manchester Mayor tells #Marr he has made “strongly supportive statements” of the Labour leader

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 3, 2021

Violence against women ‘starts with men and boys’

Burnham also spoke to Trevor Philips, who was live from Manchester for Sky News. Burnham was critical of the Metropolitan Police’s response to what women should do if confronted by a lone officer, as Sarah Everard had been. He told Philips that he would be leading a ‘high profile public information campaign’ on violence against women in his patch of Greater Manchester:

“Any answer to this issue that begins with the words ‘women should’ or ‘women must’ is, in my view, the wrong answer.”@AndyBurnhamGM says issues around women’s safety ‘starts with men and boys’ and “that is where the attention should go”.#Phillips:

— Trevor Phillips on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) October 3, 2021

Former police chief — all officers should be vetted again

Philips went on to interview Parm Sandhu, a former chief superintendent in the Met. Sandhu told Phillips that Wayne Couzens could have been spotted and removed from the police on several occasions:

Former Met Police Chief Superintendent, Parm Sandhu, tells @TrevorPTweets she has “serious concerns” about the police vetting process, and calls for all police officers to be re-vetted as an ‘urgent measure’.#Phillips:

— Trevor Phillips on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) October 3, 2021

Oliver Dowden — People will have their turkeys for Christmas

And finally, the Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden made Phillips a festive promise:

.@TrevorPTweets: Can you promise there will be turkey on the table at Christmas? 🦃🎄@OliverDowden says “we will make sure people have their turkey” and that it is “at the top” of the environment secretary’s list.#Phillips:

— Trevor Phillips on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) October 3, 2021

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