Boris Johnson has said the UK is ‘not necessarily’ headed for a recession after his chancellor announced a £15billion package to help people cope with rising energy bills and the inflation.
Despite experts warning of trouble ahead for the economy and the government taking emergency action to help struggling households, the Prime Minister sounded an upbeat note on Britain’s financial outlook in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
“There are paths ahead for the UK that are incredibly exciting,” he said. “If we make sure we have a proactive approach to foreign talent – we want to control immigration but allow the talent we need to come in – we solve our energy supply problems, we solve the labor market problems British.
“One of the incredible things about the economy right now is that unemployment is at its lowest level since I was two years old.”
He acknowledged there would be a “difficult period” ahead, but said he was confident energy prices would start to come down.
When asked if the UK was heading into a recession, he replied: “Not necessarily at all.”
Johnson’s economic optimism has been wrong in the past when he gave an interview last year saying inflation fears were “unfounded”. It has since reached 9% and it is feared to be in double digits by the end of the year.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, launched a package of measures on Thursday to tackle soaring fuel bills amid the cost of living crisis, but the measures have proved controversial with Tory MPs who would have preferred to see tax cuts.
Speaking in a series of interviews aired on Friday, Sunak said he remains a “fiscal conservative”. He also did not rule out further emergency relief next year.
The relief package was more ambitious than expected, but Sunak was quick to insist he had not changed his policy.
“First and foremost, I’m a fiscal conservative; I think it is extremely important that I manage the country’s finances responsibly,” he said on Friday morning. “That means, after taking the shock we’ve had, getting our borrowing and indebtedness levels back on a sustainable path.”
When asked if he would be prepared to introduce a new emergency plan in the future, with new loans and new taxes, he replied: “People can judge me on the way I have acted in the past two years.
“I have always been ready to react to the situation on the ground, what is happening to the economy, what families are going through and to make sure that we have policies in place to support them through this. .
“In terms of ‘Is this on time, what happens next year?’ I would go back to what I said earlier. I want people to be reassured and confident that we are going to We will be able to fight and reduce inflation, we have the tools at our disposal and after a while it will come back.
Commenting on the fact that every household across the UK would receive a £400 grant to help with rapidly rising energy costs, including wealthy people like himself, the Chancellor said he would donated hers to charity and encouraged others who did not need it. let him do the same.
He told Sky News: “I’m sure, like me, you can also donate this money to charity if you don’t need it.”
He said second homes would only account for 1-2% of payments, adding that he had not wanted to use council tax to give money to households because of the risk of penalizing the families of big houses that lacked money.
Sunak denied Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves’ suggestion that he had implemented a Labor policy, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think that’s right.”
Labor proposed a windfall tax on energy companies five months ago.
He also denied the package was presented to generate positive headlines after Sue Gray’s report revealed a culture of ‘bacchanal’ parties in Downing Street.
Despite a turbulent few weeks, where he was fined for breaking Covid rules and his family’s finances came under intense scrutiny, Sunak said he has no plans to quit .
He told the BBC: “No. I am fully committed to helping the country through the difficult months ahead and building a better future for the people I am privileged to represent.
“And, as you saw yesterday, I have the same energy and verve that I have always had for this work and I will continue.”