I appreciate there are a lot of readers expecting me to address the Sue Gray report in this week’s column. But before I do, I want to mention the huge economic support package the UK Government has put in place to tackle the global cost of living challenge brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine. The high inflation we are experiencing now is causing a great deal of worry and I know families are struggling. No government can solve every problem, particularly the complex and global challenge of inflation. But we will never stop trying to help people and to fix problems where we can - as we did throughout the pandemic. That is why Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an extra £15bn package to support households across Wales and the wider UK with the rising cost of living. We are doubling the October £200 energy bills rebate to £400 and turning it into a grant for all households. We are also providing a one-off payment of £650 to those on the lowest incomes. There will be separate one-off payments of £300 to eight million pensioners and £150 to individuals receiving disability benefits. Plus an increase in the Household Support Fund will see the Welsh Government receive an extra £25m – which I very much hope is put to good use.
The Sue Gray report doesn’t tell us much beyond what we already know. Some civil servants and officials who work in the Cabinet Office behaved badly and were drinking. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fined for attending an event he didn’t organise in the middle of the day at which some of the people he worked with wished him happy birthday. He has apologised. The Chancellor arrived for an official meeting in the same room, as he had arrived five minutes early, and chatted to some of the people already there. He was also fined and has apologised. There are many people who are angry about all of this. But the Prime Minister was elected with a large majority and given a mandate to serve for five years. Overall, I believe Boris has done a very good job in incredibly difficult circumstances and I want him to continue. The next general election will probably take place in two years and people can then consider the full record of the Prime Minister - including on delivering Brexit, dealing with the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and a cost of living challenge. I am personally happy to be judged on this record when the time comes.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 1 June 2022 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 2 June 2022*