A UK recession is “almost certain” in the next couple of years, Tory big beast Ken Clarke declared today.
The 81-year-old peer, who was Chancellor in the wake of the 1990-91 recession, warned the cost-of-living crisis was “one of the worst economic crises I can remember in my lifetime”.
He also blasted Boris Johnson ’s “absurd” £400-per-household handout for Brits to cope with soaring energy bills, regardless of wealth – as well as £300 for most pensioners.
Lord Clarke told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One: “You’ve got to protect the poor – stop giving me money to pay my power bills.
“I’m not rich, but I got £1,100 out of the government in the latest package. It’s absurd. I’ve got two houses and I’m a pensioner.
“You know, very nice, but I don’t need it. So concentrate on protecting the very poor against the vicissitudes we’re going to go through.”
It comes after Boris Johnson suggested more than 5million public sector workers should expect a real-terms pay cut – as rises will not match inflation close to 10%.
The Prime Minister told his Cabinet “the public would expect the government to stick within their means at a time of global cost of living pressures.”
Mr Johnson also blasted striking rail workers who he said were causing “all sorts of unnecessary aggravation” to other workers.
Lord Clarke backed the PM’s approach on pay, saying rises “should not be significantly above what they’re being offered at the moment” to avoid a wage-price spiral.
He also warned rail unions’ demands for a pay hike “cannot be allowed to look successful”, despite the fact “public opinion will change” and blame will fall on government as strikes drag on.
But he said: “The government has got to stop throwing money at everything… and it must actually concentrate on devoting its efforts to those things that will improve the performance of the real economy.”
The peer added: “We are in one of the worst economic crises I can remember in my lifetime, certainly since 1979.
“We are, I think, almost certainly going to go into recession in the next couple of years.
“And the Bank of England has had to start tackling inflation, which has been allowed to get completely out of hand.
“And I don’t think it is going to be self-correcting, because it’s… partly of course inflated by the Ukrainian war and so on.
“Really strong action has got to be taken to minimise the consequences of the economic problems we’re going to see over the next two years.”