Rayner targets Raab over holiday fiasco as deputies take PMQs

Deputy Labour leader accuses government of failing Britons over the looming energy crisis

Angela Rayner has accused the government of failing the British people over the looming energy crisis in a prime minister’s questions notable for its stand-in participants and a series of jibes about the holiday habits of her opponent, Dominic Raab.

With Boris Johnson in the US, Raab, the deputy prime minister, took his place, with Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, taking over from Keir Starmer, as is usual when the prime minister is away.

The likely tone of Labour attacks on Raab, who was demoted from foreign secretary to justice secretary last week following criticism of his remaining in Crete as Kabul fell to the Taliban, was clear when he first stood up, with a loud shout from the opposition benches saying: “How was the holiday?”

Rayner focused on the feared cost of living crisis this winter caused by the imminent £20 cut to universal credit, rising national insurance levels, and the cost of energy.

She also made repeated references to Raab’s much-criticised stay at a luxury resort during the peak of the Afghanistan crisis. The first came when she asked him how much the combined universal credit and national insurance changes would reduce the salary of someone earning £18,000 a year, citing “a travel agent” as an example.

“The UC uplift was always meant to be temporary,” Raab replied. “We paid the wages of nearly 12 million workers through this pandemic. We are coming out with rising jobs, rising wages. We would have done none of that if we’d taken her advice, and not come out of lockdown.”

Rayner told him the total loss would be more than £1,100, then asked: “The deputy prime minister has said the solution is for people to work harder. So can he tell us how many days a worker on the minimum wage would have to work this year in order to afford a night at a luxury hotel, say, in Crete?”

Raab responded: “If she wants to talk about taxes and easing the burden on the lowest paid, I’ll remind her, whenever the Labour party has gone into government, the economy has nosedived, unemployment has soared and taxes have gone through the roof.”

The exchanges continued in a similar fashion, with Rayner asking Raab to guarantee people would not be pushed into fuel poverty or lose energy this winter, saying ministers had not properly prepared for the crisis over gas supplies.

“Their failures has paved the way for this crisis that will hit families and businesses. And as usual, it will be the British people that will have to pay the price,” Rayner said, adding: “Maybe he should go back to his sun lounger and let me take over.”


Peter Walker Political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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