Cabinet minister Michael Gove has ruled out an emergency budget, as he insisted Boris Johnson’s suggestion of more help to ease the cost-of-living crisis was “overinterpreted”.
Under fire for failing to use the Queen’s Speech to announce fresh help, Mr Johnson suggested he and Mr Sunak would announce more “in the days to come”.
But the Treasury quickly shot down this suggestion, while No 10 conceded more support should not be expected in the “next few days”.
Mr Gove told Sky News: “There won’t be an emergency budget. It is sometimes the case that the words from a prime minister or minister are overinterpreted.
“The Prime Minister is right. We will be saying more and doing more in order to help people with the cost-of-living challenge we face at the moment, but that doesn’t amount to an emergency budget. It is part of the work of government.
“Last night the Prime Minister convened a group of ministers – we have all done work on some of the things we could do to help. Those policy initiatives will be announced by individual departments in due course as they are worked up.”
Mr Gove faced criticism for dismissing the prospects of an “emergency budget” with an impression of an American newsreader, before mimicking the Treasury, saying “Calm down” in a mock-Scouse accent.
Lisa Nandy, his Labour shadow, tweeted: “What is he doing!? Making jokes and using silly voices while families across the country are struggling to survive.
“This isn’t a game (or an Oxford Union debate!). People are having to choose between heating and eating.”
What is he doing!? Making jokes and using silly voices while families across the country are struggling to survive.
This isn’t a game (or an Oxford Union debate!). People are having to choose between heating and eating.
Take it seriously. Do your job 🙄pic.twitter.com/6Qd5TLdXl4
— Lisa Nandy (@lisanandy) May 11, 2022
Mr Johnson chaired a meeting of the domestic and economic strategy committee with senior ministers on Tuesday.
But No 10 has in the past suggested they have been told to come up with ideas to ease the pain that do not require new money.
Households are facing soaring energy bills, inflation is forecast to hit 10% and welfare payments and wages are falling far behind the increase in prices.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the Government’s response “pathetic”, as he was joined by charities and economic experts in criticising Mr Johnson’s plans.
The Child Poverty Action Group said there was “no short-term comfort for parents struggling to feed their kids in the face of rocketing prices”.
Torsten Bell, the chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, said ministers had announced “nothing material today on the short-term nightmare of cost of living”.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the Queen’s Speech “does nothing to help the millions of families and pensioners facing soaring bills and eye-watering inflation”.