Keir Starmer grilled by Beth Rigby over Labour’s tax stance
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Sir Keir Starmer is using an opposition day debate in parliament to attack Boris Johnson over the escalating cost of living crisis. Working families face a squeeze on living standards “not seen for a generation” and the Conservatives are to blame, according to the party.
It is forcing a vote on the “effect of Government policy on the finances of working people” this evening.
The motion says MPs are worried about a cost of living crisis hurting Britons across the country.
Listing a series of concerns, the motion warns of: “a growing squeeze on living standards caused by the £1,040 per year reduction to universal credit, the rise in National Insurance Contributions for low and middle income workers, increases in council tax, the freezing of the personal income tax allowance from April 2022, the increasing cost of household energy bills, the highest petrol prices since 2013 and the potential for the largest rail fare increase in a decade, the fastest rise in private rental prices since 2008, successive above inflation increases in childcare costs, and rising prices resulting from the supply chain disruption caused by worker and supply shortages.”
MPs will vote on whether to endorse the motion in a vote at 7pm.
However, in an unusual move, the Conservatives have tabled an amendment to the motion to reverse its meaning.
If the amendment is approved by MPs, the motion would praise the Government rather than criticise it.
The Tories are seeking to change the wording of the motion to praise the Government’s economic plan.
The new wording would say the House of Commons “welcomes the £400 billion package of support the Government has put in place to protect jobs, incomes and livelihoods throughout this covid-19 pandemic”.
It would also point to evidence on “unemployment forecast to be 2 million lower than previously expected, job vacancies at record highs, household incomes protected, consumer confidence back to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels, and GDP recovering rapidly, with the IMF forecasting the UK to have the highest growth in the G7 this year”.
With the Conservatives holding an 80-seat majority in the Commons it is highly likely the amendment will pass.
The tabling of the amendment is irregular for the Tories under Boris Johnson.
In previous votes, the party has been ordered to abstain on Labour motions.
In a motion forced by Labour on the reversal of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit last Wednesday, Government whips ordered Conservatives not to vote.
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The Prime Minister’s Press Secretary said: “As a general rule we don’t vote on opposition day debates.”
Speaking in the Commons ahead of tonight’s vote, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said: “In our country today working families face a sudden squeeze on living standards on a scale not seen for a generation.
“Incomes are coming down, prices are going up, especially energy prices, taxes are going up, rents are going up, childcare costs are going up, fuel costs are going up, rail fares are going up.
‘And with empty shelves in too many shops, restaurants closing because of meat shortages, and now refrigerant shortages putting Christmas at risk, it isn’t just that people can afford less, there is also less to afford.
“The people of Britain face an extraordinary squeeze on their living standards this winter.
“Not simply by chance, but because of the choices made by Conservative governments, this year, last year, and in the 10 years before.
“Now it is not some tragic, unforeseeable series of unhappy accidents that brought us here today.
“It is a string of choices which this Government has made.”
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