London party

Raab case shows PM’s position ‘very weak’, Labor says

THE CONTROVERSY over high-level ministerial appointments shows that Rishi Sunak’s position as Prime Minister is “very weak”, according to Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth.

He told GB News: “Dominic Raab was nominated by Rishi Sunak. Last week we had the fury of Gavin Williamson. The previous week there were serious question marks over [Home Secretary] Suella Braverman too.

“Ultimately it comes down to Rishi Sunak’s judgment and weakness in that he has to pander to certain factions among Tory MPs.

“I think the concern is that when we face the international crisis in Ukraine, when we face the global economic problem, we have a very weak prime minister. This is illustrated by the way he made these appointments of people for whom there are now serious question marks.

Asked about today’s inflation figures during a breakfast interview with Paul Hawkins and Isabel Webster, he said: “We are in a very difficult economic climate and of course that is the overall figure when you look at the details, food and drink is up 60% year on year, inflation is hurting the poor.

“It diminishes the purchasing power of wages, it undermines the value of pensions and we are less able to weather these economic storms because of 12 years of poor economic performance under the Tories. And that absolutely disastrous Conservative budget eight weeks ago led to a huge spike in borrowing costs.

“This has led to a run on pension funds and increased mortgage lending. Hopefully in tomorrow’s budget we will see that the value of increased pensions, the triple lockdown for pensioners, is respected.

“I hope we don’t see further cuts in Universal Credit payments for workers and people with disabilities because they shouldn’t be paying the price because of the Conservatives’ disastrous decisions and economic mismanagement.”

On defense spending, he said: “Over the past 12 years the Tories have actually downsized our armed forces. We will make our spending commitments for the next Labor government in our manifesto. As we get closer to a general election, the general election could be in two years, but we would still say that our first priority is the defense of the realm.

“We are the party that will uphold national security in this country, and we would never do anything to undermine our national security. We want to strengthen our national security, but we will make our specific recommendations or our specific policy commitments on spending closest to a general election.