WATCH: McGovern demands action now to avert “worst consequences” of winter

Katie Neame

Labour’s Alison McGovern has declared that people being unable to cope with the cost of living in October is a “foreseeable, preventable crisis” and demanded that the government acts now to avert the “worst consequences” of the coming winter.

Interviewed on Sky News this morning, the shadow employment minister said: “People could be forgiven for wondering if we have government ministers at all.

“It seems like the Conservative Party is treating this question about how we get support to people as soon as we possibly can as a sort of issue in their leadership election, rather than an issue that is stressing out a vast number of people.”

McGovern told viewers: “There’s clearly some things that we could do straight away, and we want to see VAT off fuel bills. I’m sure that there’ll be other ideas as well.

“But the big question I’m left with is, whilst there is a Tory leadership election going on, we do have government ministers. They could be working with civil servants now and bringing forward proposals with the consent of the existing Prime Minister and the leadership candidates.

“And that would mean we could crack on with this and try and get some help to people, rather than just continuing in this constant Tory leadership debate, which is not any real help to people at all.”

On why Gordon Brown has been making interventions this week rather than Labour leader Keir Starmer, the Labour frontbencher said: “Because a huge number of churches, charities, faith groups – we even had Tony Danker from the CBI, saying that we need action now.

“Keir Starmer was in Liverpool the week before last setting out the way that the economy needs to change to make sure that we’ve got the right energy mix for the future.

“So what we’re seeing is a huge number of people across the country saying: ‘This isn’t good enough, we need to take steps now, because we’ve got a crisis coming in the winter if we are not very careful’.”

Pressed on why it has been Brown making headlines this week, McGovern stressed that the “whole Labour team” has been working together to ensure the cost-of-living crisis is “at the top of the agenda”.

She added: “Because if we get to October and too many people are simply unable to cope, then that will have been a foreseen, foreseeable, preventable crisis. And that’s not acceptable.

“The government could take steps now, even during their leadership election, to make sure that that doesn’t happen. So, of course, all Labour politicians think that we need action now. But it’s not just us, there’s faith groups and, as I said, the trade unions and the CBI who also agree.”

McGovern continued: “The question I’m left with is why isn’t the government doing something. Whether it’s as Gordon says, you bring together people through the COBRA mechanism for dealing with emergencies or whether Boris Johnson, even at this late stage, should be bringing the Tory leadership candidates together.

“Frankly, I don’t care. I just know that in my constituency, I’ve had people come to me really worried about bills, knowing that their home is not well insulated and worrying how they’re going to make it through the winter.

“We should be acting now to prevent what could be the worst consequences of a winter where energy bills are sky high and people have got other pressures as well, whether it’s food prices or public transport prices or a whole host of other things where government action could certainly make a difference.”

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