THIS week I will be focusing on the cost-of-living crisis and on Ukraine having met with the ambassador earlier this week – which was extremely humbling.
Since I last wrote, the reality of the cost-of-living crisis has been drawn into even sharper focus.
Last week, at a Select Committee hearing in Parliament, leaders of the UK energy companies were clear that a shocking 40% of UK households will be in energy poverty by the autumn. That’s two in every five homes. This is truly dreadful.
The newspaper reports and the figures coming from charities and foundations make for extremely distressing reading.
More than 90 per cent of British households say their everyday costs are rising. A Delta Poll survey suggests that more than half of the British population will be unable to afford bills in a few months – while nearly five million people say they’re already choosing between heating and eating.
The Resolution Foundation says 1.3m people will fall into absolute poverty in 2023, including 500,000 children.
But the Government is so out of touch with the reality facing ordinary people. As I said in my question to the Prime Minister a few weeks ago, the Chancellor is so out of touch he’s contactless.
It was telling to see him apparently struggle to use his contactless card at a petrol station after his photo stunt involving a small car belonging to a Sainsbury’s worker. I think the public will see the stunt for exactly what it was.
Like so many others, I have been troubled by the situation in Ukraine for some time now. Not just because of the atrocities committed by President Putin and the affect his invasion has had on the world economy. But also, because the west and NATO – which Ukrainians quite rightly hope to be part of – were for too long nothing more than passive onlookers.
I want more than anything for there to be a peaceful resolution and a complete Russian withdrawal which fully guarantees respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and existing borders. But we know there won’t be.
Sanctions, sending arms and supporting refugees is the least we can do. But is there more we can do? Was there more we can do?
Conservative Party figures and civil servants recently broke ranks and claimed that, in the aftermath of the Russians invading and seizing Crimea, successive Conservative Prime Ministers were either afraid to arm Ukraine because it would risk Putin’s ire, or they were already consigned to Kyiv being defeated in the event of an invasion so viewed sending weapons as a pointless endeavour.
What an extraordinary miscalculation.
We need to send more military aid to help Ukraine through this next phase. And we need to be prepared to support Moldova and other neighbouring nations too. Western military strategists will be wracking their brains for a solution – but it needs to come fast if we want to save Ukraine.