Keir Starmer has branded Boris Johnson “the comical Ali of the cost of living crisis”, as he mocked the unambitious contents of the package of support for households discussed by cabinet on Tuesday.
Proposals to save drivers £25 a year by cutting the frequency of MOT tests were the equivalent of John Major’s derided “cones hotline” in the 1990s, the Labour leader told prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons.
In furious exchanges a week ahead of crucial local elections, Mr Johnson named a string of Labour councils which he said had gone bankrupt, and hailed his own successes in dealing with Covid and protecting jobs.
But Sir Keir said there was little sign in the prime minister’s comments of the debating skills which an unnamed Tory MP told the Mail on Sunday gave him the edge over deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, with her comprehensive school education.
“This must be the Oxford Union debating skills we’ve been hearing so much about,” said Starmer, to laughter from the Labour benches.
“Failing to answer the question, mumbling incoherently, throwing in garbled metaphors – powerful stuff, prime minister.”
Sir Keir compared Mr Johnson to Saddam Hussein’s spokesman at the time of the Iraq War, who became a figure of fun globally for continually insisting that things were going well against all the evidence.
And he added: “Here’s the problem – it is not just his words that are complacent. It’s his actions as well.
“The cost of living crisis was blindingly obvious months ago. But he said worries about inflation were unfounded. And he backed a tax-hiking budget.
“Does he think that his choice to be the only leader in the G7 to raise taxes during the cost of living crisis has made things better or worse for working people?”