Boris Johnson tells jokes and Tory minister has 'the time of my life' while cutting benefits and taxing the poorest – Robert Aldridge

The prize for the most toe-curling performance of last week must be shared between the Work and Pensions Secretary singing “I’m having the time of my life” on the day she cut almost £1000 per year from Universal Credit payments to the lowest paid and the flippant and vacuous speech by the Prime Minister at the Conservative Party conference at a time of national crisis.

The UK is paying the price of Boris Johnson's failure to plan for the effects of Brexit (Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

Edinburgh set up an excellent Poverty Commission which reported earlier in the year and the council as well as other major players in the city committed to a large number of practical measures to help people escape poverty here.

But a combination of decisions by the Conservatives will ensure that people will experience greater poverty in the next few months, and that is a disgrace.

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On top of the £20 per week cut in Universal Credit – much of which goes to people in low-paid work to keep their heads above water – the Conservatives have chosen to increase National Insurance which hits the lower paid harder than the rich, and there have been eye-watering increases in energy prices and the cost of goods in the shops as part of the penalty we all pay for Brexit.

Nowhere else in Europe is having to slaughter thousands of pigs without butchering them for food because there is a labour shortage, and nowhere else in Europe has consistent gaps in supermarket shelves, or crops left to rot in the ground. Leaving nutritious food to go to waste because of a lack of preparation for Brexit is a sign of just how incompetent our government is.

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More importantly, our care services are under huge pressure partly because of the loss of excellent care workers who have returned to their home EU country. Once again no preparation for Brexit and it is the most vulnerable people in our country who are paying the price.

The pinnacle of incompetence must be the Northern Ireland Protocol which Boris Johnson signed triumphantly not that long ago but now says must be renegotiated. That puts all our safety at risk but particularly the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland. He may say he got Brexit done but now he wants it undone and redone! It’s all bluff and bluster and no substance from the Prime Minister.

They were warned about all of these but refused to listen or act. So as we reel from unnecessary, completely predictable and self-inflicted Brexit hardships, the Conservatives have chosen to let people fall off a cliff of poverty.

They are adding insult to injury through extra taxes and benefit cuts on the lowest income households, not to mention high inflation just around the corner.

Struggling to make ends meet is not a joke, Prime Minister. We should be doing all we can to pull people out of poverty, not entrenching it further. It’s not so much Build Back Better as increased Bills on the Backs of the Poorer, and I for one know exactly where the blame lies.

Robert Aldridge is a councillor for Drum Brae/Gyle and Scottish Liberal Democrat group leader

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