Susanna Reid confronted Boris Johnson about the cost-of-living crisis today – and he  boasted of giving free bus passes to pensioners. 

The Prime Minister faced an uncomfortable grilling as he appeared on Good Morning Britain for the first time in five years, following the departure of Piers Morgan. 

But if he thought he would get an easier ride from Ms Reid, he was mistaken as he was questioned about the cost-of-living crisis facing Britons, including soaring bills, as well as the Partygate crisis.

It came as a new poll suggested the Tories are set to lose nearly 550 seats in Thursday’s local elections.

Presenter Reid raised the plight of Elsie, whose energy costs in her council flat have risen from £17 to £85 a month.

In an opulent room in 10 Downing Street, Ms Reid told the PM how Elsie leaves home early and rides buses using a freedom pass, which allows the over-60s on London unlimited travel, in order to not have to heat her flat.

Asked what else Elsie should cut back on, he said: ‘I don’t want Elsie to cut back on anything, let’s talk about Elsie and what we are doing and – just to remind you that the 24-hour freedom bus pass was something that I actually introduced.’

‘So Elsie should be grateful to you for her bus pass? What else should she cut back on?’ Ms Reid replied.

Mr Johnson went on: ‘There are plenty of things more that we are doing. What we want to do is make sure we have people who are in particular hardship looked after by their councils, we are putting much more money into local councils. We have the particular payments to help elderly people in particular with the cost of heating.’ 

In a difficult morning for the leaders of the two main political parties, Keir Starmer was forced yet again to defend his behaviour amid questions over ‘Beergate’.

In interviews this morning, Sir Keir denied there was any ‘equivalence’ between the ‘work event’ during a visit to Durham last year and the lockdown breaches in Downing Street.

He accused the Tories of ‘mudslinging’ ahead of local elections, before raising eyebrows by repeatedly dodging over whether police had been in touch about the incident. Labour later clarified police have not contacted the party.

The Prime Minister faces an uncomfortable grilling on Good Morning Britain today about the cost-of-living crisis facing Britons, including soaring bills.

Presenter Susannah Reid raised the plight of Elsie, whose energy costs in her council flat have risen from £17 to £85 a month.

Presenter Susannah Reid raised the plight of Elsie, whose energy costs in her council flat have risen from £17 to £85 a month.

In the No10 interview, Ms Reid told how Elsie leaves home early and rides buses using a freedom pass, which allows the over-60s on London unlimited travel, in order to not have to heat her flat.

In the No10 interview, Ms Reid told how Elsie leaves home early and rides buses using a freedom pass, which allows the over-60s on London unlimited travel, in order to not have to heat her flat.

The latest research for Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now interviewed 1,749 adults in the 201 councils holding ballots this week

The latest research for Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now interviewed 1,749 adults in the 201 councils holding ballots this week

Sir Keir was caught on camera swigging beer with colleagues at a time when England was slowly emerging from lockdown last year

Sir Keir was caught on camera swigging beer with colleagues at a time when England was slowly emerging from lockdown last year

Susannah and Boris clash over Elsie 

Susannah Reid: ‘Elsie is a widow and she is a pensioner who lives in a council house. She receives a pension of £170 a week, her energy bills have gone, get this, from £17 a month to £85 a month. She will pay an additional £816 a year. 

‘To cut down on spending, Prime Minister, Elsie has now resorted to eating one meal a day, she is 77 years old. She is losing weight. She goes to the supermarket at the end of the day to buy yellow-stickered discounted items, she gets up early in the morning to use her freedom bus pass to stay on buses all day to avoid using energy at home. What else should Elsie cut back on in your opinion?’

Boris Johnson: ‘I don’t want Elsie to cut back on anything, let’s talk about Elsie and what we are doing and – just to remind you that the 24-hour freedom bus pass was something that I actually introduced…’

Reid: ‘So Elsie should be grateful to you for her bus pass? What else should she cut back on?’

Johnson: ‘There are plenty of things more that we are doing. What we want to do is make sure we have people who are in particular hardship looked after by their councils, we are putting much more money into local councils. Wwe have the particular payments to help elderly people in particular with the cost of heating.’

Responding to Mr Johnson’s interview, shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘It is utterly shameful that pensioners have no choice but to sit on the bus all day to avoid racking up heating bills at home, or are left shivering in blankets and only eating one meal a day.

‘For Boris Johnson to respond by boasting about the London bus pass reveals just how out of touch this narcissistic Prime Minister is. 

‘The simple truth is Boris Johnson has just imposed the biggest real terms cut to the pension in 50 years and charities like Age UK are warning this will be a year of hell for Britain’s retirees.’

The PM insisted the Government is doing ‘everything we can’ to help with the cost-of-living crisis, but warned that increasing state support beyond its current levels could drive inflation even higher.

There is a ‘global context’ caused by a surge in energy prices which is hitting all aspects of the economy including food, he said, adding: ‘The cost of chickens is crazy.’

On energy, Mr Johnson said: ‘This country is in the insane position of having to take in, pipe in, electricity from France and elsewhere because we haven’t done enough to invest in our own security of energy and electricity.’

The PM also distanced himself from remarks by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week in which he suggested the Government could ‘look again’ at a windfall tax on energy firms. 

Both Labour and the Lib Dems are pushing for a one-off levy on massive profits made by firms at the same time families struggle with their costs.

Mr Johnson warned that a windfall tax on energy companies would deter investment, and set out why taxpayer support for households has to be managed to avoid fuelling inflation.

 ‘If you put a windfall tax on the energy companies, what that means is that you discourage them from making the investments that we want to see that will, in the end, keep energy price prices lower for everybody,’ he said.

Challenged about benefits failing to keep pace with rising inflation, he said: ‘We have a short-term hit caused by the spike in energy prices across the world. 

‘If we respond by driving up prices and costs across the board in this country, responding by the Government stepping in and driving up inflation, that will hit everybody.

‘And that will mean that people’s interest rates on their mortgages go up, the cost of borrowing goes up, and we face an even worse problem.’

The Government has set out a £9 billion package of loans to cut energy bills and council tax rebates, but Mr Johnson faces calls to go further.

Asked what else Elsie should cut back on, he said: 'I don't want Elsie to cut back on anything, let's talk about Elsie and what we are doing and - just to remind you that the 24-hour freedom bus pass was something that I actually introduced.'

Asked what else Elsie should cut back on, he said: ‘I don’t want Elsie to cut back on anything, let’s talk about Elsie and what we are doing and – just to remind you that the 24-hour freedom bus pass was something that I actually introduced.’

On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the Prime Minister said: ‘I accept that those contributions from the taxpayer – because that’s what it is, taxpayers’ money – isn’t going to be enough immediately to cover everybody’s costs.’

Put to him that that means the Government is not doing everything it can, Mr Johnson admitted: ‘There is more that we can do.

‘But the crucial thing is to make sure we deal with the prices over the medium and long term.’

BP today notched up its highest quarterly underlying profits for more than a decade thanks to rocketing oil and gas prices as calls mount for a windfall tax on the sector.

The oil giant saw underlying replacement cost profits – its preferred measure – more than double to 6.2 billion US dollars (£5 billion) for the first three months of the year from 2.6 billion US dollars (£2.1 billion) a year ago.

But on a statutory basis, BP swung to a 23 billion US dollar (£18.4 billion) loss after taking a mammoth 25.5 billion US dollar (£20.4 billion) hit from its move to ditch its near-20 per cent stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft in response to the Ukraine war.

The underlying result was far better than the 4.5 billion US dollars (£3.6 billion) expected by analysts and is likely to further fuel demands for a windfall tax.

In response, BP unveiled plans alongside its quarterly figures to invest up to £18 billion into the UK energy system by 2030.

It pledged to invest in North Sea oil and gas, while driving down operational emissions, and said it is also working on a range of lower carbon energy projects in the UK, which are set to create jobs and develop new skills.

In a further sign that it is seeking to head off criticism, BP also stressed it expects to pay up to £1 billion in taxes for its 2022 North Sea profits, on top of around £250 million paid annually in other UK taxes.

Chief executive Bernard Looney insisted the group is ‘backing Britain’.

Police STILL have not contacted Labour over Keir Starmer’s ‘Beergate’ episode as ANOTHER Cabinet minister urges a probe into the ‘work event’ 

Police still have not contacted Labour over Keir Starmer‘s ‘Beergate’ episode, it was revealed today – despite another Cabinet minister urging a probe. 

In interviews this morning, Sir Keir denied there was any ‘equivalence’ between the ‘work event’ during a visit to Durham last year and the lockdown breaches in Downing Street.

He accused the Tories of ‘mudslinging’ ahead of local elections, before raising eyebrows by repeatedly dodging over whether police had been in touch about the incident. 

However, it is understood there has been no fresh approach from the local force.

The comments came as Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan added to calls for Durham Police to look again at the issue, saying she would ‘encourage’ officers to do so.  

Sir Keir was caught on camera swigging beer with colleagues at a time when England was slowly emerging from lockdown last year, when indoor socialising was banned. Labour insisted it was a ‘work event’. 

In interviews this morning, Sir Keir denied there was any 'equivalence' between the 'work event' during a visit to Durham last year and the lockdown breaches in Downing Street

In interviews this morning, Sir Keir denied there was any ‘equivalence’ between the ‘work event’ during a visit to Durham last year and the lockdown breaches in Downing Street 

Sir Keir was caught on camera swigging beer with colleagues at a time when England was slowly emerging from lockdown last year

Sir Keir was caught on camera swigging beer with colleagues at a time when England was slowly emerging from lockdown last year

 

But last week, after being presented with video evidence by the Daily Mail, the party was forced to admit deputy leader Mrs Rayner was at the gathering – something it had denied for months.

A string of other questions have also been raised about Labour’s account of the event, particularly over whether Sir Keir returned to work after drinking beer at 10pm. 

Durham Constabulary has so far declined to launch a full investigation – apparently deciding to clear Sir Keir of any offence on the basis of video footage it reviewed in February. 

Asked if there has been any contact from the force in recent weeks, a clearly irritated Sir Keir told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The police looked at this months ago and came to a clear conclusion that was ‘no rules were broken’, and that’s because no rules were broken.

‘Look, they’ve already concluded their investigation, no rules were broken and this is simply being whipped up as mud-slinging by the Tories.’

He added: ‘We were working, we stopped for food, no party, no rules were broken; I don’t know what I can add to that.’

Asked if he returned to work after the beer, he replied: ‘Yes, the idea that nobody works at 10 o’clock at night is absurd.’

Amid growing calls for a review of the event, Ms Trevelyan told Sky News: ‘I understand that there is some work ongoing and I would absolutely encourage them to look at it.’

Boris insists to Susanna Reid he IS honest and just got it ‘wrong’ on Partygate as he’s grilled on GMB – while poll finds Tories face losing 550 SEATS in local elections on Thursday in worst showing since Blair was Labour leader

Boris Johnson today insisted he is honest and just got it ‘wrong’ over Partygate as he faces a huge blow in local elections with a poll suggesting the Tories are set to lose nearly 550 seats.

The PM said he did his best to represent his beliefs ‘faithfully and accurately’ as he was interviewed by Susanna Reid on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

A clearly uncomfortable Mr Johnson stressed that he ‘inadvertently’ misled Parliament over whether lockdown rules were breached in Downing Street, and had apologised since being fined by police. He said he had not received any other penalty notices yet but had ‘no idea’ whether that would change. 

He also wriggled as he was grilled on how he was going to help people with the cost-of-living crisis, batting away calls for a windfall tax on energy firms reaping the benefits of soaring oil and gas prices.

Mr Johnson conceded that inflation could hit 10 per cent in the coming months, and suggested there was ‘more’ the government could do – but declined to say what that might be. 

The comments came as a shock survey found Labour is in line to gain more than 800 councillors in the contests on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives could see their numbers dive by 548 – in what would be a disastrous result for the PM as MPs mull a coup in the wake of the Partygate scandal. 

It would be the worst Tory showing since Tony Blair was Labour leader, with flagship councils such as Wandsworth and Westminster on the line as well as Southampton and Thurrock.  

The latest research for Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now interviewed 1,749 adults in the 201 councils holding ballots this week. 

Asked on GMB if he is ‘honest’, Mr Johnson said: ‘Yes. I think the best way to judge that is to look at what this Government says it’s going to do and what it does.’

He added: ‘I do my best to represent faithfully and accurately what I believe, and sometimes it’s controversial and sometimes it offends people, but that’s what I do.’

In response to a suggestion that some people believe he is a liar, Mr Johnson said: ‘If you are talking about the statements I’ve made in the House of Commons, I was inadvertently… I was wrong and I’ve apologised for that.’

The latest research for Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now interviewed 1,749 adults in the 201 councils holding ballots this week

The latest research for Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now interviewed 1,749 adults in the 201 councils holding ballots this week

Boris Johnson was out campaining in Tynemouth yesterday ahead of the elections

Boris Johnson was out campaining in Tynemouth yesterday ahead of the elections 

The snapshot suggested Labour will end up holding 3,500 council seats compared to under 980 for the Conservatives. 

The vote share of 24 per cent for the Tories and 39 per cent for Labour means the biggest advantage in local elections since the mid-1990s. 

Martin Baxter, chief executive of Electoral Calculus, which conducted the survey with Find Out Now, told the Telegraph: ‘The renewed partygate focus has made a poor situation for the Conservatives even worse by persuading even more Conservative supporters not to turn out at the local elections.

‘The results could now be bad for Boris Johnson, especially if the Con servatives lose many hundreds of council seats and key flagship councils like Wandsworth or Westminster.’

However, Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan denied that the results would be a verdict on Mr Johnson’s premiership.

She told Sky News: ‘I think there are some places where there’s some close fights but I think also in many places, certainly on doors I’ve been knocking on, there’s been a continuing support at a local level.’

She added: ‘As ever with local councils’ elections, we’ll win some and we’ll lose some, that’s the nature of the beast anyway … but what I think we will see is a really strong showing by Conservative voters who want to come out and demonstrate that they know that locally-run councils run by Conservatives are better.’

Asked if the results would be seen as a referendum on the Prime Minister, she replied: ‘No.’

She added: ‘As I say, 12 years into government you do get … sometimes a protest vote and that’s the beauty of democracy, that’s one of the reasons we’re supporting Ukraine as they fight to maintain their democratic right to be a free nation.’

Local elections are taking place across the UK on May 5, with more than 4,000 council seats up for grabs in England.

They include parts of the Red Wall such as Bury, as well as Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and all 32 London boroughs. 

There have been claims that the Tories are facing an even worse outcome, losing up to 800 seats.

But a narrower outcome could be tricky to interpret as many of the seats were last contested when the UK was still in the EU, Theresa May was in No10 and Labour was led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan denied that the results would be a verdict on Mr Johnson's premiership

Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan denied that the results would be a verdict on Mr Johnson’s premiership

Experts have pointed out that Labour had a very strong performance in 2018, suggesting the party could struggle to make further big gains – despite polls showing a national lead and massive advantage in London.   

Although many of the issues that decide local elections remain the same – such as bin collections and services – they will inevitably be interpreted through the prism of Partygate in the wake of Mr Johnson’s fine.

Restive Conservatives have been holding off a decision on whether to mount a coup until the results come in, meaning the aftermath is likely to be the moment of maximum danger for the PM. 

In a number of boroughs such as Wandsworth, Conservative candidates have been adding ‘local’ to ballot papers in an effort to offset the impact of Partygate. 

Labour and the Lib Dems have been accused of giving each other clear runs in seats where they are taking on Conservatives. 

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