Tuesday, 6 Jun 2023

‘Excruciating!’ Therese Coffey in BBC black lash over cost crisis ‘Just want to turn off!’

Therese Coffey is grilled by Justin Webb on cost of living crisis

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Therese Coffey was pressed by BBC Radio 4 Today Programme host Justin Webb over muted plans from Conservative frontrunner Liz Truss to curb the soaring cost of living in the UK. Listeners and pundits blasted the interview, with Ms Coffey being singled out for being “evasive and formulaic” in the face of a gruelling barrage of questions from Mr. Webb. 

Ms Coffey was pressed on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme by host Justin Webb to explain how potential Prime Minister Liz Truss might tackle the cost of living crisis. 

The Work and Pensions Secretary suggested a grip on the crisis could be gained by “making sure that we get that growth, get some of the changes that make it cheaper to do business and put money back in people’s pockets and that is the initial way.”

Mr Webb interrupted to ask: “Does that mean rolling back and windfall tax that’s already been introduced?”

“Well, I think it’s the case that discussions are already underway between the Government and indeed energy companies. But importantly, it’s about making sure that we do and are already helping people, the government is doing that…,” started Ms Coffey

Me Webb jumped in again, saying: “But does it mean rolling doesn’t mean rolling back, so in other words, when she says she doesn’t approve of windfall taxes, that’s very clear, she doesn’t approve of them.”

He asked: “But of course, there is one already, it has already been introduced, introduced in fact by Rishi Sunak, is she committed to the windfall tax that is currently being imposed on the oil and gas producers?”

Ms Coffey replied: “Justin what was speculated on this week was about increasing the level of taxes on the energy companies…”

“And we understand she’s against that but she is also opposed to the one that currently exists,” the Radio 4 host clarified. 

“Well, as I say, I think that Liz has shown very clearly that it’s not about increasing the taxes on corporations. What she has talked about is about reducing corporation tax…,” begun the Government minister.

Mr Webb injected once more with “So is she’s opposed to the current.”

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“She doesn’t make a policy on the hoof,” was Ms Coffey’s answer.

“Well it is quite an important piece of policy isn’t,” scoffed Mr Webb in response.

The exchange was ill-received by some listeners including conservative commentator Tim Montgomerie.

He wrote on Twitter: “Just listened to @JustinOnWeb interview Therese Coffey. It’s excruciating. I just want to turn off the radio. Ministers are so evasive and formulaic.

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“Where is the plain speaking, the honesty, the urgency? Thoroughly depressing.”

Ms Truss, the frontrunner to become Prime Minister, said that while energy giants should be held to account their profits should not be seen as either dirty or evil.

Her comments came as analysts forecast a cap on the most widely used household energy bills could reach over 5,000 pounds ($6,095.50) a year in 2023, up 150 percent compared with current levels.

This month British energy giants Centrica, BP and Shell have published bumper profits, largely due to high wholesale gas prices, prompting renewed calls from opposition parties and charities for the government to impose tougher windfall taxes on energy firms.

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