Economic crisis requires political leadership that grasps how bad this could get – Scotsman comment

The suggestion by Conservative MP Roger Gale that a “crisis Cabinet” could be set up if Boris Johnson is forced to resign over his lockdown breaches was made so that a leadership contest could be avoided amid the Ukraine war.

Britain needs a Prime Minister able to focus on the economic crisis rather than how he will explain any further fines for lockdown breaches (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Britain needs a Prime Minister able to focus on the economic crisis rather than how he will explain any further fines for lockdown breaches (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

However, with the cost-of-living crisis continuing to worsen – with disruptions to supplies of Ukrainian farm produce and the need to boycott Russian oil and gas both significant factors – it is past time for politicians, at both UK and Scottish levels, to wake up to the seriousness of the situation facing not just many ordinary people but businesses too.

According to a survey carried out for food bank charity the Trussell Trust and Deliveroo, nearly one in ten parents say they are “very likely” to need to use a food bank in the next three months. Nearly six out of ten reported rising household bills had led them to cut back on heating, while a third had skipped one or more meals over the past three months.

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And new evidence presented to MSPs by the Food and Drink Federation Scotland revealed manufacturers expect their fuel and energy costs to increase by 84 per cent following the Ukraine invasion. One company fears its costs could go up by as much as 400 per cent.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith rightly said that the “twin blows” of the Covid pandemic and the energy crisis were putting “unsustainable pressure on businesses across the country”, as she called for the Scottish Government to do more to help.

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But the same applies equally to the UK Government. After his Spring Statement last month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was criticised for the absence of significant measures to offset rising bills and his mini Budget now looks even more lacklustre and inadequate than it did then.

This is not simply a crisis for the poorest in society but for the economy as a whole. If people cut back on spending en masse just as business costs rocket, many firms may find themselves in real trouble, potentially creating a dangerous downward spiral.

All those in elected office need to grasp just how serious this crisis is and focus on ways to help. Getting rid of a Prime Minister preoccupied with his own survival, given the prospect of further fines, would be a start.

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