‘Captain’ Johnson on ‘shore leave’ amid cost-of-living crisis, says Tory peer

Asda chairman Lord Rose criticised the ‘horrifying’ state of inaction amid the Tory leadership replace to become the next prime minister.

17 August 2022

Boris Johnson is facing criticism for a lack of action while holidaying as rising food prices pushed inflation to another 40-year high.

Asda chairman Lord Rose criticised a “horrifying” absence of fresh support, saying: “The captain of the ship is on shore leave – nobody is in charge at the moment.”

The Conservative peer questioned when an emergency budget will be brought forward as he warned that “inflation isn’t sitting there waiting for us” as the cost-of-living crisis deepened.

Official figures from the Office for National Statistics showed on Wednesday that the Consumer Prices Index measure of inflation reached 10.1% last month.

Lord Rose
Lord Rose was leading the criticism of the lack of action (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

The increase was largely attributed to a spike in food prices and staples including toilet rolls and toothbrushes.

Criticism of Mr Johnson mounted as No 10 refused to say whether he will spend his last weeks as Prime Minister living at his grace-and-favour home, Chequers, during the Tory leadership contest.

He was spotted holidaying with wife Carrie Johnson in Greece after their honeymoon to Slovenia, and his final months in post have also included a Typhoon fighter jet trip and a belated wedding party in the Cotswolds.

Lord Rose, a former chief at Marks & Spencer, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve got to have some action. The captain of the ship is on shore leave – nobody is in charge at the moment.”

He added: “Nothing is happening. We’re sitting here now, into the fourth month of the crisis, and we’re still waiting to see what action will be taken – it’s horrifying.”

The peer called for fresh targeted action to help “those who need it most” as he warned the nation is “heading towards a recession”.

Removal vans have been seen taking belongings from Downing Street during the Tory leadership race to replace Mr Johnson ahead of his exit on September 6.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “We must get a grip on rising inflation leaving families worried sick about making ends meet.

UK inflation rate
(PA Graphics)

“People are worried sick while the Tories are busy fighting and ignoring the scale of this crisis.”

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has demanded a £29 billion package to stop energy bills further soaring this winter, to be paid for in part by an extension of the windfall levy on oil and gas giants’ profits.

But Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss rejected the plan, seemingly dismissing it as a “sticking plaster” approach as she pledges tax cuts to boost growth.

In a statement, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi pointed to existing support through a £37 billion support package and £400 off energy bills but did not indicate any fresh measures would be taken.

“I understand that times are tough, and people are worried about increases in prices that countries around the world are facing,” he said.

“Getting inflation under control is my top priority, and we are taking action through strong, independent monetary policy, responsible tax and spending decisions, and reforms to boost productivity and growth.”

UK historic inflation rate
(PA Graphics)

Ms Truss, the Foreign Secretary, and her leadership rival Rishi Sunak, a former chancellor, are expected to face questions over the economy during a hustings in Belfast.

Truss-supporter Sajid Javid insisted she will “act very quickly” on the economy through an emergency budget if made prime minister.

Mr Javid, a former Cabinet minister, told Sky News: “Tax cuts, I think they are especially important for long-term growth, we can’t tax our way into growth and she’s set that out

“She’s absolutely right to say there will be an emergency budget. I would assume the Treasury’s already working on plans (from) an incoming new prime minister.”

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.