OPINION - Evening Standard Comment: Inflation is as big a risk for Boris Johnson as his own backbenchers

·2-min read
 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

The latest inflation data from the Office for National Statistics may not have come as a surprise to analysts, but it is another clear sign that a sustained cost of living crisis is underway.

Annual CPI inflation rose to 5.4 per cent in November, the highest figure for nearly three decades. As such, anyone who receives a pay increase below that figure — or none at all — is experiencing a real-terms pay cut.

It is amid this economic context that the Conservative Party is threatening to unleash yet another internecine war on the nation. Rumours are swirling around Westminster that the 54 letters from Tory MPs necessary to trigger a leadership ballot may be breached in the coming days.

And so at a time when the public wants to see their Prime Minister get a grip of the unfolding economic crisis, many will suspect he is more focused on trying to save his own job.

We urgently need to see evidence of a plan for growth, productivity and living standards. The announcement that Plan B restrictions — in particular the work from home guidance — will come to an end on January 26 is welcome, but that is not in itself a growth strategy, merely the prerequisite for one.

Without a proper plan, many households will simply be overwhelmed by a cocktail of soaring energy prices, the rising cost of food, higher taxes and the spectre of further interest rate rises from the Bank of England.

Boris Johnson is not responsible for the global squeeze on supply chains or wholesale gas prices, but he must not stand by or allow himself to be distracted from running the country and addressing its urgent problems.

Whether Sue Gray’s report fully clears the Prime Minister or not, the Tories cannot afford to preside over a nation of falling disposable incomes.

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