Matthew Taylor

Shortages may last until Christmas, PM admits

Shortages may last until Christmas, PM admits
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The Conservative party conference is just beginning in Manchester and, as is tradition, the Prime Minister sat down with Andrew Marr to discuss some of the most important issues facing the country. Marr began by asking about the case of Sarah Everard, who was abducted, raped and murdered by serving policeman Wayne Couzens. Johnson told Marr that the police as a whole are ‘overwhelmingly trustworthy’ and that he would ‘stop at nothing’ to reform the criminal justice system in order to ‘get more rapists behind bars’:

‘Wages are growing’

Marr challenged Johnson over statistics that he gave on the state of the economy. The Prime Minister claimed that after ‘ten years of flatlining’ paycheques, lower earners were seeing their wage packages grow as employers suffer a labour shortage. 

The PM explained that issues in abattoirs and on petrol station forecourts were a necessary condition of reaching higher wages — and he pledged that his government would not return to the era of 'uncontrolled immigration' to help mitigate the lack of workers. However, the PM did concede that there was a possibility that shortages could run until Christmas if the crisis failed to abate in the coming weeks (although the Tory party chair promised in a separate interview that people 'will have their turkeys for Christmas', see below).

Marr disputed the central pillar of Johnson's argument, claiming instead that increasing wages are being cancelled out by a rise in the price of goods. The broadcaster cited data from the Office for National Statistics that shows that wage growth is yet to match rising inflation:

‘Have no fear… I do not want to raise taxes again’

Marr tried to pin down Johnson on taxes, saying that the PM was presiding over the highest level of taxation in the broadcaster's lifetime. The Conservatives pledged in 2019 not to raise the rates of income tax, VAT or National Insurance, but the government’s last budget introduced a hike in National Insurance to pay for NHS shortfalls, which will later transform into a ‘health and social care levy’. Johnson argued that the increase was needed in order to be ‘responsible’ with the public finances:

Andy Burnham — ‘I agree’ Keir Starmer is doing a ‘good job’

Marr also interviewed the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham. With Keir Starmer having a mixed conference of his own last week, Marr asked Burnham about the speculation that he could be after the Labour leader’s job:

Violence against women ‘starts with men and boys’

Burnham also spoke to Trevor Philips, who was live from Manchester for Sky News. Burnham was critical of the Metropolitan Police’s response to what women should do if confronted by a lone officer, as Sarah Everard had been. He told Philips that he would be leading a ‘high profile public information campaign’ on violence against women in his patch of Greater Manchester:

Former police chief — all officers should be vetted again

Philips went on to interview Parm Sandhu, a former chief superintendent in the Met. Sandhu told Phillips that Wayne Couzens could have been spotted and removed from the police on several occasions:

Oliver Dowden — People will have their turkeys for Christmas

And finally, the Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden made Phillips a festive promise: