UK minister on PM leave amid economic crisis

I don't know where Boris is: UK minister on PM leave amid economic crisis

The British minister said he exchanged messages with Boris Johnson and Nadim Zahawi.

London:

A British senior minister admitted ‘I don’t know where Boris is’ on Friday as the Prime Minister went on holiday, in a week in which the Bank of England has warned that a recession of a year was approaching.

Downing Street declined to say where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is vacationing for a belated honeymoon with wife Carrie this week, but The Times newspaper said the couple were in Slovenia.

Johnson will have a lot more free time after Sept. 6, when he is due to step down as Conservative leader Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, but has decided to take an early break.

The opposition Labor party has accused the government’s two most senior ministers of being “missing”, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi also on holiday.

“I don’t know where Boris is, but I’m in constant contact with him,” Business Secretary and Truss supporter Kwasi Kwarteng told Times Radio.

He said he exchanged WhatsApp messages with Johnson and Zahawi “all the time”, and insisted that criticism that the government was doing nothing about the economic crisis was “wrong”.

Zahawi said he stayed in touch with Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey on Thursday after the central bank raised interest rates from 1.25% to 1.75%, the biggest rise in 27 years.

The BoE is trying to rein in soaring inflation, which it says could peak at 13.3%, as it forecasts the UK economy will enter a recession in the fourth quarter and last until the end of 2023.

– ‘Magic solutions’ –

“For me, like I’m sure many others, there’s no vacation without working. I’ve never had that in the private sector, not in government,” Zahawi said in a statement.

Foreign Secretary Truss and Sunak, Zahawi’s predecessor as chancellor, clashed again over how to resolve the crisis in a televised debate on Thursday evening.

A recession is “not inevitable”, said Truss, who according to polls of Tory members, is set to succeed Johnson.

It includes an emergency budget to immediately cut taxes to tackle the cost of living crisis and review the independent central bank’s inflation-fighting mandate.

“Telling people that your real income is reduced and I’m going to raise your taxes, I think it just adds insult to injury,” Kwarteng told Sky News.

But Sunak said tax cuts financed by more borrowing would force the BoE to raise interest rates even further, stressing the need to maintain fiscal discipline and tame price pressures first.

Former cabinet minister Liam Fox, who backs Sunak, has warned against “magic bullets” via debt-funded tax cuts as proposed by Truss.

The two candidates were due later Friday to stage another husting event in front of Conservative members, who have until September 2 to vote.

Ballots were due to be released on Monday this week, but the party delayed the process after government cyber experts raised concerns about potential hacking of online votes.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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