Strong economy will get us through 'tough patch' says Boris Johnson on Southampton Airport visit

Boris Johnson tries baggage-handling on his visit to Southampton Airport Credit: ITV News Meridian

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the country is going through a 'tough patch' due to the cost-of-living pressures.

Addressing reporters at Southampton Airport on his final day of campaigning before the local elections on Thursday, the Prime Minister insisted the country was better-placed than it was during economic crises in the 1980s or 1990s.

“The best future for the country is get through the tough patch we have now, support people in any way that we can, but remember we are now seeing a lot of employment and people in high-wage, high-skilled jobs.

“That’s a much better position to be in than we were in the 1980s or 1990s.”

WATCH: The PM spoke to ITV News Meridian at Southampton Airport

He cited the airport's expansion, saying it would bring more jobs and more growth to Southampton.

"The most important thing is to have a strong economy with high-wage high-skilled jobs. Here we are at Southampton Airport. They have a great plan to expand the number of jobs they currently have, offer more services and also take steps to protect the environment at the same time.

"Plus they have got a Free Port coming in, the site for the Southampton Free Port will be partly based here and that will drive more jobs as well."

He said a windfall tax on oil and gas companies would stop investment in new green technologies that would later keep energy costs down.

Thirteen councils in the South are holding elections to decide who runs local services like libraries, planning, bin collections and potholes.

The Meridian region has been a key battleground for the local elections. The Labour leader Kier Starmer has been in Worthing and in Bitterne in Southampton this week, and the Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has been in Surrey.

Sir Keir Starmer in Worthing on Monday

Speaking in Worthing on Monday, Sir Keir said the rising cost of living is keeping people up at night. He said : “Everybody is talking about the cost-of-living crisis.

“The thing that has been keeping people up at night is worrying about paying their bills and being whacked with tax by the Government.

“From the Labour Party point of view we think that there should be a windfall tax on oil and gas companies in the North Sea, they have made more profit than they are expecting.

“Use that for energy bills, up to £600 for those who need it most.”

And Sir Ed said: "We've argued for a tax cut, a cut in VAT worth £600 to the average family, as well as targeted measures for pensioners and people who are less well off.

"And we pay for that with a windfall tax on the oil and gas companies and not going ahead with a tax cut that Rishi Sunak has put in for the banks. That would fund a real programme of help.

"The conservatives are raising taxes, particularly on people on low incomes. This doesn't make sense."

Mr Johnson met holidaymakers at the airport, helped baggage handlers load suitcases and took a look at a fire service response vehicle.