Protestors gather ahead of a cost of living demonstration in central London
The head of the TUC, which has organised thousands of people to rally against the cost-of-living crisis, has warned the prime minister not to put responsibility for it on workers.
“Let me say this to Boris Johnson – don’t you dare shift the blame for inflation on to working people,” she told crowds.
“Don’t you dare, not after a decade of austerity, privatisation and pay cuts. Don’t you dare tell working families we have to put up with more pain.”
Earlier, Mr Johnson said Britain would get through the crisis and “come through on the other side strongly” as he said he sympathised with people facing pressure.
The TUC says workers have lost almost £20,000 since 2008 because pay has not kept pace with inflation.
Meanwhile, home secretary Priti Patel said the “absolutely scandalous” European court decision that effectively grounded the first flight to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda was politically motivated.
Mr Johnson said the government would press ahead with its Rwanda plan, and defended Home Office plans to electronically tag some asylum-seekers arriving in the UK.
Pictures from the London demonstration
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 16:10
Ministers chasing headlines while making cuts, says Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the government of chasing headlines over the Rwanda deportations plan – while planning cuts at the agency that fights people-traffickers.
Speaking about the government’s actions to try to halt the arrival of migrants on small boats, he said: “What I want is a serious response because nobody wants these journeys across the Channel to be made, these perilous journeys.
“Everybody want to clamp down on the gangs. That requires grown-up work with the French authorities and upstream work to actually tackle these gangs.
“You don’t do that if you’re a government that is asking the National Crime Agency to make cuts.”
Labour says the Home Office is considering 20 per cent cuts to the National Crime Agency.
Ministers have already slashed spending on the International Corruption Unit, part of the agency, by 13.5 per cent this year, and want to cut 91,000 jobs from the civil service.
Government is ‘chasing headlines’ with plans to tag asylum seekers, says Starmer
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 15:35
Rail strikes could cost industry over £1bn, says leisure chief
Next week’s rail strikes could devastate Britain’s post-Covid recovery and cost key industries over a billion pounds, the Government has been told.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry group UK Hospitality, warned that tourism and leisure businesses were already fragile after pandemic lockdowns and would take a “big hit”.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) confirmed industrial action would go ahead on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, although disruption is possible for the rest of the week.
Ms Nicholls told Times Radio: “At the best, we think it’s going to take a hit to hospitality revenues of over half a billion pounds.
“But that presupposes that many people will travel on those shoulder days when the trains and the Tubes will still be disrupted – it could be more significant than that.
“And if you look across the whole tourism, and leisure and theatre industries as a whole, you are definitely looking at an economic hit of over a billion pounds.”
Ms Nicholls said tourism and hospitality businesses had already been damaged by the cost-of-living crisis and urged the Government, rail networks and the RMT to reach an agreement.
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 15:10
Don’t you dare shift the blame, TUC chief warns PM
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, which organised a rally by thousands of people in London, has been met with applause and cheers as she gave a speech to the crowd in Parliament Square.
She said: “I have seen the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has threatened rail workers that they will strike themselves out of a job.
“Well, you are wrong Mr Shapps: if you keep stirring, come the next election, you will be out of a job.”
Ms O’Grady added: “Let me say this to Boris Johnson: don’t you dare shift the blame for inflation on to working people.
“Don’t you dare, not after a decade of austerity, privatisation and pay cuts.
“Don’t you dare tell working families we have to put up with more pain.
“What about bankers’ bonuses? What about the boardroom raking it in? What about corporate profits?
“It is time to raise taxes on wealth not workers.”
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 14:44
Starmer: Wakefield ‘could be birthplace of next Labour government’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged supporters not to be complacent with just a few days to go before the Wakefield by-election, telling them the town “could be the birthplace of the next Labour government”.
His party is now odds-on favourites to take back the seat they lost in 2019 as part of the Tories’ takeover of “red wall” constituencies across the north of England.
He told a rally in the town: “It feels like we can reach out and touch this. It feels positive…
“We know how hard this is. We lost in 2019. We have to earn every vote.”
He added: “If we get it right, this Wakefield by-election could be the birthplace of the next Labour government.”
But he warned: “We have to remind ourselves that we’ve only gained one by-election in the past 25 years.
“So we have to keep going for these last few days to make history.”
Sir Keir addressed a large crowd of supporters along with Labour’s by-election candidate, Simon Lightwood, and shadow cabinet members Louise Haigh and Jonathan Ashworth.
Wakefield was won by the Tories in 201 after being a Labour stronghold since the 1930s.
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 14:20
Demonstrators condemn government curb on protests
Protesters at a rally in London opposing the rising cost of living have criticised the controversial Police and Crime Bill which they fear could limit such demonstrations in future.
Ben Robinson, 25, called the Bill “draconian”, saying he hoped people would still come out to protest if it became law.
He told the PA news agency: “The fear for me is that these things aren’t going to be happening as often with the new Police and Crime Bill coming in, so I think it’s important to get out now while we’re allowed to.
“Obviously, I think people should still protest regardless of that draconian Bill, but to see this (turnout) today is amazing.”
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 14:00
UK will pull through strongly, PM insists
Boris Johnson said Britain would get through the cost-of-living crisis and “come through on the other side strongly”.
Communities secretary Michael Gove warned on Thursday that the country was facing “tough times” after the Bank of England forecast inflation is set to hit 11 per cent as it raised interest rates to 1.25 per cent.
Mr Johnson said: “I sympathise very much with everybody who is facing pressures caused by the cost of living. We will get through it. We will come through the other side strongly.”
He rejected suggestions that a £21 billion package announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak would simply add to the inflationary pressures.
“We don’t believe that this support is inflationary. We believe it will go to people who need it. We think it is completely the right thing to do,” he said.
Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke said on Friday that pay demands that seek to match the rate of inflation risked creating a 1970s-style wage-price spiral, pushing prices in the shops even higher.
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 13:45
Johnson vows to press ahead with Rwanda deportations
Boris Johnson has said the Government will press ahead with its policy of deporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda, after the first flight was blocked following an 11th-hour ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
Speaking at RAF Brize Norton after returning from Kyiv, Mr Johnson said ministers remained confident that the policy was lawful.
“Every single court in this country said that there was no obstacle that they could see. No court in this country ruled the policy unlawful – which was very, very encouraging,” he said.
“There was this weird last-minute hiccup we had with Strasbourg. Let’s see where we get with that. I have read some interesting legal commentary about that.
“But we are very confident in the lawfulness of what we are doing and we are going to pursue the policy.”
Priti Patel has said the judgement was “scandalous”.
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 13:33
PM defends plan to electronically tag refugees
Boris Johnson has defended “draconian” Home Office plans to electronically tag asylum seekers arriving across the Channel on small boats or lorries, saying it was essential that people could not simply “vanish” after arriving in the UK. Ashley Cowburn and Colin Drury report:
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 13:26
Protesters march to Parliament over rising prices
Hundreds of protesters are marching in central London to demand action from the Government to combat the cost-of-living crisis.
The crowds are heaging to Parliament Square for a rally with speakers including Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, which is organising the event.
The TUC says its research suggests that workers have lost almost £20,000 since 2008 because pay has not kept pace with inflation.
Banners reading “cut war not welfare” and “end fuel poverty, insulate homes now” are being carried by some demonstrators.
Jane Dalton18 June 2022 13:17
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