Covid-style TV press conferences to return as under-fire Boris Johnson seeks to turn page

Boris Johnson speaking at a press conference in 10 Downing Street following the tightening of England's Covid-19 tiers in December 2020. Credit: PA

An under-fire Boris Johnson is to bring back Covid-style TV press conferences on his plans to address the cost-of-living crisis, in a bid to show the public how seriously he is taking issues with the economy.

The prime minister's spokesman denied the press conferences were designed to distract from the repeated scandals engulfing Number 10, such as the latest controversy involving MP Chris Pincher who resigned as deputy chief whip amid "groping" allegations - which has led to the resignations of the Chancellor and Health Secretary.

Downing Street said the decision to hold televised briefings in the same way as during the Covid-19 crisis showed rising prices were being "treated with the same level of seriousness in terms of trying to address the problem".

Mr Johnson used Tuesday's Cabinet meeting to tell ministers "tackling inflation and addressing cost-of-living pressures will remain the top priority, which is why we will be holding regular government press conferences over the next six months to explain the details of different elements of the Government's plan for the economy", Downing Street said.

The PM promised that he and ministers would "help people through the current difficult times".

Boris Johnson held a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday. Credit: PA

Asked whether it was a sign that the crisis was as serious as the Covid-19 pandemic, the PM's spokesman said: "It can be risky to draw equivalence, given we are talking about individuals who lost their lives, sadly.

"It is right that this is something that is a significant burden on people up and down the country, and indeed globally."

The soaring cost of fuel led some motorists to stage protests on Monday on some motorways and major roads but Number 10 said police had the PM's support in responding to disruptive demonstrations.

Twelve protesters were arrested on Monday after bringing parts of the M4 between Bristol and south Wales to a standstill.

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Asked if Mr Johnson had sympathy with the protesters, the prime minister's official spokesman said: "He fully recognises these are challenging times for families across the country," but added: "This kind of disruption only puts further strain on people struggling with the cost of living."

"It stops them getting to work, it stops them getting their children to school, it puts livelihoods at risk and it prevents people going about their daily lives.

"So the police have our support in responding to protests which carry a significant disruptive impact on the public."

The spokesman said Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak kept measures on the cost of fuel under constant review but he was "not aware of any specific plans" to further cut duty.

"I'm not aware of any specific plans with regards fuel," the spokesman said.

"It's something the chancellor and the prime minister do constantly keep under review, what - if any more - can be done with regards to these global pressures, whilst balancing that with the fact that we are servicing around #83 billion of debt."