The Prime Minister is in “total denial” about the “damage and decline that he is presiding over”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The Labour leader probed the Prime Minister on the UK’s longstanding problems with growing the economy, during their weekly joust at Prime Minister’s Questions.
He also referred to the economic damage caused by Rishi Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss during last autumn’s mini-budget.
But Mr Sunak accused Sir Keir of making “inflationary, unfunded spending commitments” and running out of taxpayers’ cash to fund Labour’s promises.
The Labour leader told the Commons: “The dictionary definition for unfunded commitments is last year’s kamikaze budget. The only country in the G7 still poorer than it was before the pandemic, and he stands there pretending it’s all fine. Total denial about the damage and decline that he is presiding over.
“Delivering growth and tackling the cost-of-living crisis will mean standing up to vested interests. Energy bills are going to go up by £900 in April.
“He knows he’s going to have to act but who’s going to pay? Hard-working families through higher taxes and more borrowing or the oil and gas giants celebrating record profits?”
The Prime Minister replied: “I know the honourable gentleman, he made a rare trip out of north London to visit Davos recently. Perhaps while he was there, perhaps he missed the survey of 4,000 global CEOs from 100 different countries that ranked the United Kingdom as their number one European investment destination?
“If he’s serious about getting the economy growing then he should stand up to the vested interests in the unions and back our minimum service levels.”
Sir Keir had earlier referred to predictions which suggest the “average family in Britain will be poorer than the average family in Poland by 2030”.
Referring to the 1980s comedy television programme, Sir Keir suggested “we are going to see a generation of young people learning to say ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’ in Polish” as British workers migrate to the country for work.
The Prime Minister replied that the biggest impact on households’ living standards was due to rising energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine.
He went on: “Because of our energy price guarantee, right now, the Government is paying over half of a typical household energy bill, saving households right now £1,000. It is one of the most generous support schemes globally.
“But if he’s concerned about the cost of living, what he should do is stop making inflationary, unfunded spending commitments and back our plan to halve inflation.”
Sir Keir next turned to housebuilding, suggesting that the number of houses being built was due to fall to its “lowest level in 75 years”.
But the Prime Minister claimed the Government had overseen “the highest number of first-time buyers in around 20 years”.
The Labour leader then called on the Prime Minister to scrap “his” non-dom status and use it to fund better childcare provision.
Sir Keir said: “It is not just bills or housing, families are paying over a thousand pounds a month just to send their child to nursery. If he scrapped his non-dom status, he could start to fund better childcare, put money back in people’s pockets and get parents back to work.
“Seems a pretty simple choice to me. So what is he going to choose? Wealthy tax avoiders or hardworking parents?”
Mr Sunak replied: “He has already spent the money he has claimed he would raise from that policy on five different things. It is the same old Labour Party, always running out of other people’s money.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub