Britain is falling deeper into the crisis by the day, but its government is not acting

Britain is falling deeper into the crisis by the day, but its government is not acting

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the National Health Service Confederation, said in a statement that many “could face the terrible choice of skipping meals to heat their homes and having to live in cold, humid and very uncomfortable conditions… These outbreaks are going to strike.” , just as the NHS is set to experience what is likely to be its most difficult winter ever.

The highly unusual intervention comes after weeks of warnings that Britain is only at the beginning of its worst cost-of-living crisis in generations.

Inflation topped the 10% mark earlier this week, putting more strain on households already struggling to make ends meet. The country is headed into recession, with GDP expected to contract through the end of the year and beyond.

Adding to the economic woes, transport and dock workers are on strike and there are warnings of further industrial action in the public and private sectors. Even some criminal lawyers have gone on strike, causing disruption in already crowded courts.

The biggest rail strikes in 30 years began Monday night, with trains across the UK grounded for much of the week.

However, outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on his second summer holiday. Asked why Johnson isn’t back in London and presenting an urgent action plan, Downing Street says major spending plans should be taken over by the next Prime Minister.

Johnson’s successors – either Liz Truss, the current Secretary of State, or Rishi Sunak, the former Treasury Secretary whose resignation prompted his final downfall – will not take office until September 5. It has been almost two months to the day since Johnson announced he would step aside, ignoring calls for him to step down immediately and allow a new leader to resume government business.

The next Prime Minister will not be chosen by the British public, but by members of the ruling Conservative Party, which numbers fewer than 200,000 people in a country of around 67 million people.

That is constitutionally correct. In the UK, voters elect a local MP. The party with the most seats – and, if lucky, the majority needed to pass legislation in Parliament – asks the monarch for permission to form a government. Traditionally, the leader of this party becomes prime minister.

In 2019, Johnson won an 80-seat majority in Parliament. While that has since diminished, the Conservative Party still has a majority and is therefore still able to govern.

So why, given the urgency of the situation and the fact that the professional civil service could do so, are Johnson’s allies saying that the next prime minister must take action to provide financial assistance to those suffering from the cost-of-living crisis? Work on the myriad of issues when prompted.

Boris Johnson will be replaced as Conservative leader and British Prime Minister by Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss.

A government spokesman told CNN that “while tax decisions for the coming months will be made for the next Prime Minister, we now continue to support people directly with financial support as part of our existing £37bn package, which is due out over the next few weeks will arrive and months in advance to help people with the rising cost of living.”

However, critics from across the political spectrum believe that this is not enough and that more decisive action is needed now.

Daniel Kawczynski, a Conservative MP who supports Truss in the leadership contest, believes that given the gravity of the situation, the party should end the contest early and install the new prime minister or authorize Johnson to take action now.

“The competition has lasted too long and we need leadership now. Navel-gazing is never a good thing when critical decisions need to be made. So we must either empower the current leader to take action or we will end the competition. The British people rightly expect us to address this crisis,” he told CNN.

In a possible foreshadowing of what could become a scathing critique of the government in the future, Labor MP Chris Bryant told CNN that “Johnson should take action now on the cost of living crisis. It’s just a mixture of laziness and complacency preventing them (conservative leadership candidates) from taking action.”

The opposition Labor Party this week called for an immediate recall of Parliament so lawmakers can take immediate action to freeze energy bills, which are set to nearly double in October after the regulator raised a cap on supplier prices.

In a letter to Johnson and the two leaders, Labor MP Thangam Debbonaire, Labor’s shadow leader in the House of Commons, called on the Conservatives to “bring Parliament back early on Monday 22 August so we can freeze the energy price ceiling now”.

More Brits are having to turn to food banks to survive the cost of living crisis.

She added that next week the UK’s energy regulator “will announce the increase in the energy price cap. Against the backdrop of inflation picking up to 10.1%, this will not only send households into another spiral of worry, urging them to scale back even further ahead of winter. But it will deliver another shock to our economy. With businesses and households on the brink, we can’t wait to act.”

The energy price cap is a safeguard implemented by the government to prevent energy companies from overcharging customers.

CNN reached out to Downing Street and several government officials to comment on the proposal, but had not received an on-file response at the time of publication.

Given the gravity of what lies ahead for the country, even former Johnson allies and die-hard Conservatives cannot understand why the party in power seems so happy.

None of the leadership candidates have given specific examples of what specific policies will be implemented to deal with what will be a hell of a winter for many. A cynic might say this is because any solution will require huge amounts of public spending, anathema to traditional Conservative members who will choose the next prime minister.

It could also be because public spending on such a scale cannot be explained in the same breath as pledges of immediate tax cuts and a refusal to raise taxes on big business, including energy companies, to fund a way through the crisis.

However, it won’t be long before Johnson’s successor has to face a wider group of critics. First, their political opponents in Parliament. Then the general public at the ballot box.

Inaction as dire warnings pour in weekly could be an ultimate blunder, costing the Conservatives the next general election. And after more than a decade in power, it would be a big plea to the public to forgive them for sleeping into a crisis.