With the prime minister declining to ‘prenez un grip’, major industries’ pleas for help are going unanswered
The clock is ticking, and the threat to livelihoods could not be clearer. Yet despite warnings from major manufacturing industries that they’re days away from having to shut down factories due to the spiralling cost of energy, this weekend all the government had to offer them was a public slanging match. When the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he was seeking Treasury help for those affected, a Treasury source snapped back that it wasn’t involved in any talks and that “this is not the first time the [business] secretary has made things up in interviews”.
If it’s true that we shouldn’t believe a word Kwarteng says, then he shouldn’t be business secretary. If it’s a wicked smear, then heads should roll at the Treasury instead. Eventually the prime minister might deign to prenez un grip on all this, but first he has chosen to prenez un holiday in sunny Marbella. As Whitehall reportedly ponders a contingency plan urging the public to put another jumper on and turn down the heating, perhaps Boris Johnson might like to reflect from his sun lounger on what his government is meant to be for, exactly.
Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist