Boris Johnson has been accused of being "missing in action" as the UK faces a looming economic crisis caused by the rising cost of living. (Photo: Charles McQuillan via Getty Images)
Downing Street has defended Boris Johnson’s holiday during the worsening cost of living crisis, saying it is “not unusual” to take time off during parliamentary recess.
The prime minister will return from his break today after facing accusations he has been “missing in action” while the UK is mired in political and economic crisis.
The Labour Party has attacked the prime minister for presiding over a “zombie government” just as the Bank of England warned of a looming recession and energy bills are expected to rise to almost £4,000 in October.
Downing Street has refused to say where the prime minister has been on holiday, but there have been reports that he has been enjoying a delayed honeymoon with his wife Carrie in Slovenia.
Pictures also emerged of Johnson and his wife enjoying a lavish wedding celebration in the grounds of a multi-millionaire Tory donor in Gloucestershire.
Asked whether Johnson was concerned there had been a “power vacuum” in government, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “I think the public understands it is not unusual for the prime minister or ministers to take some time off during the summer recess.
“Some of the challenges that you’re talking about are due to come towards the end of the year from October. That’s when a further phase of support is already due to come in.
“And the public if uncertain, should check to see what they are eligible for.”
The spokesman also said no taxpayers’ money was used in the funding of Johnson’s holiday.
Watch: What have Tory leadership rivals Truss and Sunak pledged for the country?
Pressed on whether Johnson paid for it himself or if it was funded by a donor, the spokesman said any declarations would be made if required.
He also said that Johnson would be meeting the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, later this week to discuss some of the economic support that is due to come in later in the year.
It comes as Tory leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak continue to court the votes of party members, who will select the new leader and prime minster, with the result announced on September 5.
The race has been set against the backdrop of the bank warning that the country will face the longest joint recession in 30 years due to the cost of living crisis.
Last week it raised interest rates to 1.75 per cent, the largest single increase in 27 years, as a way to try to control spiralling inflation.
The prime minister and Zahawi were both away at the time.
Both leadership candidates have vowed to do more to help families get through the cost of living crisis but have clashed on when the new support should be provided and what it should look like.
So far the government’s support centres on £400 off energy bills for every household come October, while the most vulnerable households across the UK will receive support of £1,200, including a one-off £650 cost of living payment.
The scale of the economic challenge awaiting the country prompted an intervention from former prime minister and chancellor Gordon Brown, who claimed there was a a “vacuum” at the heart of government.
Brown told Good Morning Britain: “There’s got to be someone in charge. And it’s not just that they’re asleep at the wheel – there’s nobody at the wheel at the moment.
“You’ve got Boris and his chancellor who have been on holiday, and then you’ve got the two leadership candidates on the campaign trail.
“What’s happening at the centre of government is there is a vacuum and it’s got to be filled immediately if we’re going to protect people by October.
“I know from my own experience, you’ve got to act quickly to deal with the benefits and tax issues if you’re going to get the changes in by the time you want them to be in.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.