A British cabinet member admitted on Friday that “I don’t know where Boris is” as the prime minister checked out on holiday, a week after the Bank of England warned of a year-long recession.
Boris Johnson has gone on a delayed honeymoon with wife Carrie since Wednesday, according to Downing Street.
He still remains at the helm, instead handing over temporarily to Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, but has declined to confirm the destination of the honeymoon.
The UK Embassy in Ljubljana confirmed that Johnson was on a private visit to Slovenia.
Johnson will have plenty of time on his hands after September 6, when he is set to hand over as Conservative leader to Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, but decided to take a break soon.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadim Zahawi is also on holiday this week and the opposition Labor Party accused two senior members of the government of being “missing in action”.
“I don’t know where Boris is, but I am in constant contact with him,” Business Secretary and Trus supporter Kwasi Kwarteng told Times Radio.
He said he exchanged WhatsApp messages with both Johnson and Zahavi “all the time” and that criticism that the government was doing nothing about the financial crisis was “false”.
Zahavi said he was in touch with Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey on Thursday after the central bank raised interest rates to 1.75 percent from 1.25 percent, the biggest hike in 27 years.
The bank is trying to rein in rising inflation, which it has warned could reach 13.3 percent, as the UK economy enters a fourth-quarter recession that will last until 2023.
“For me, as I’m sure for many others, there is no such thing as a holiday and no work. I never had that in the private sector, not in the government,” Zahavi said in a statement.
Foreign Secretary Truss and Sunak, Zahawi’s predecessor as chancellor, clashed again over how to resolve the crisis in a televised debate late Thursday night.
“The reality is that we face a recession if we continue with our business-as-usual policies,” Truss, who is leading a poll of Tory members, told reporters on Friday.
She plans an emergency budget to tackle the cost-of-living crisis with immediate tax cuts and a review of the independent Bank of England’s inflation-fighting mandate.
But Sunak said tax cuts financed by more borrowing would force the bank to raise interest rates further, with the need to maintain fiscal austerity and control price pressures first.
Former cabinet minister Liam Fox, who supports Sunak, warned against a “magical solution” through the debt-financed tax cuts proposed by Truss.
Both candidates were due to hold another hustings event later on Friday in front of Tory MPs, who are due to vote by September 2.
In Thursday’s Sky News debate, Truss was put on the back foot after the moderator highlighted her changing roles over the years, including a key policy U-turn this week on public sector workers’ pay.
But Sunak was also embarrassed last week when video emerged of him diverting government funds from “deprived urban areas” to grassroots Tories in wealthy Kent as chancellor.
In a video obtained Friday by the New Statesman magazine, Sunak only emphasized the need to shift the focus of government aid to other cities and rural areas, his campaign said.
But senior Labor MP Lisa Nandy said: “This leadership race is revealing the true colors of the Conservatives.
“It is scandalous that Rishi Sunak is openly boasting that he has set the rules to give taxpayers’ money to rich Tory shires.”
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