Boris Johnson has predicted that the UK will “emerge stronger and more prosperous” once the cost of living crisis begins to ease.
Despite huge hikes in energy prices, largely caused by the war in Ukraine, he has also said the West must “double down” on its support for Kyiv and not “go wobbly”.
“It was Putin’s barbaric invasion that spooked the energy markets,” the prime minister writes in the Mail on Sunday.
“It is Putin’s war that is costing British consumers. That is why your energy bill is doubling. I am afraid Putin knows it. He likes it. And he wants us to buckle.”
It comes as the prime minister’s likely successor, Liz Truss, is considering cutting VAT by 5% across the board, according to The Telegraph.
A source told Sky News that Ms Truss “will consider options to help people but it would not be right for her to announce her plans before she has been elected prime minister or seen all the facts.”
The Tory leadership frontrunner has previously committed to carrying out a “thorough review” of the tax system which is “too complicated”.
On Saturday, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi predicted that Britons earing £45,000 salaries will need government help to pay their energy bills this winter – and not only people on benefits.
Striking a more positive note, Mr Johnson claimed the UK’s “bounce back can and should be remarkable and that our future will be golden”.
The outgoing PM says the UK is in a stronger position that may at first be apparent.
This is because of “long-term decisions, including on domestic energy supply”, he writes.
PM’s optimism won’t help with people’s energy bills
Boris Johnson is known for his optimism, but telling people they will “emerge stronger and more prosperous” from the cost of living crisis won’t help with their bills right now.
Unemployment warnings during the pandemic (that he recalls in his article) may not have materialised, but the energy cap rise has: most households will have to pay thousands more and bills are likely to rise even further next year.
It is easier to sound hopeful when it is someone else who will have to make the difficult decisions: Boris Johnson knows his legacy is likely to loom over the next government and he may well continue to make his views known.
The chancellor has also spoken on rising bills. Nadhim Zahawi warns that middle-income households (like senior nurses and teachers on around £45,000 a year) need more help, and prices could remain “punishingly high” for two years.
The chancellor is urgent and gloomy, unlike Boris Johnson.
But in just over a week’s time there will be new occupants at Number 10 and Number 11; how the new government deals with the cost of living could well define it and decide the next election.
Regarding support for Ukraine, Mr Johnson says “we cannot flinch now”.
“If Putin is allowed to get away with his murder and mayhem, and to change the borders of Europe by force, then he will simply do it again, elsewhere on the periphery of the former Soviet Union,” he says.
“Other countries will draw the lesson that violence and aggression can pay off and that will usher in a new cycle of political and economic instability.”
The PM goes on: “That is why we must continue to back the Ukrainians – and their military success continues to be remarkable.
“Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shown his country is fundamentally unconquerable.
“Now is the time for the West to double down our support, not to go wobbly.”