Cobra meeting urged

Brown: act now on cost of living or recall MPs

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown: a Cobra meeting is required (pic: Terry Murden)

Former Prime Minister and Chancellor Gordon Brown says the Tory leadership candidates should call an emergency Cobra meeting with Boris Johnson to address the rise in energy and food bills ahead of further price hikes in the autumn.

If they are not willing to meet he says parliament should be recalled to discuss the growing crisis which is forcing poorer households to choose between heating and eating.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shared the former Labour leader’s concern and called on Mr Johnson to bring forward a scheduled meeting because of what she termed the “fast deteriorating” situation.

In a letter to Downing Street she said: “Only the UK government can access and make available resources on the scale required. Therefore, actions by devolved governments alone – though important – will not be enough to meet the unprecedented challenges we face.”

Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), joined the calls for action, saying: “We simply cannot afford a summer of government inactivity while the leadership contest plays out followed by a slow start from a new prime minister and cabinet.”

Mr Brown has suggested a cap on energy prices or, by following the example of Norway, the state covering 80% of the increase in bills.

The former Labour leader told Sky News: “There’s no doubt that people are going to go without food and they’re going to go hungry and cold in October if we don’t take action now.

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“It really is not good enough for leadership candidates to go around the country saying I’ll have a plan next month, the month after.

“I want the two leadership candidates and Boris Johnson to get together. If they won’t I think parliament should be recalled, and there should be emergency meetings with Cobra.”

Mr Brown was unimpressed with the measures being suggested by Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

Speaking to LBC radio, he said tax cuts really help those people who are wealthiest in our society and will not do much help to those facing the pain.

“And it’s not going to be achieved by the national insurance change and not by the corporation tax change,” he added.

He said there had been an “exercise in blame shifting on the part of some of the present members of the government” and Andrew Bailey, the Bank of England governor, should be sending an open letter explaining how he would bring inflation down.

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