(Photo: Ian Forsyth via Getty Images)
A senior Tory who told Brits struggling with the rising cost of living to get a “better-paid” job has admitted his comments were “a bit clumsy”.
Tory party chairman Jake Berry caused an outcry when he advised people who were worried about paying their energy bills this winter to “go out there and get that new job”.
HuffPost UK also revealed that on top of his MP’s salary, Berry also earns £3,500 a month providing “strategic corporate advice” to law firm Squire Patton Boggs.
Berry told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday last week: “People know that when their bills arrive, they can either cut their consumption or they can get a higher salary or higher wages, go out there and get that new job.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 2, 2022
He also suggested that people should learn to manage their household budgets better.
“I think every household understands that actually the reason this government is going for growth is because when you are struggling with your household budget, as many households are, you need to grow your personal household budget, in many cases people’s pay packets, that’s why we’re going for growth,” he said.
“But you also need to manage your expenditure and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the government to say that the public sector should look at its expenses in the same way that every single household is doing in this country.”
Berry’s comments were widely seized on as insensitive by Labour’s Angela Rayner, who told HuffPost UK: “It’s alright for Jake Berry, who’s gone out and bagged himself a lucrative extra consultancy job on top of his role as an MP, but he’s living on another planet if he thinks his constituents can just go and do the same.
“If he spent more time understanding the realities facing working people than pocketing tens of thousands from a second job on top of his role as an MP, then perhaps he would spend less time doling out such crass and ignorant lectures.”
Speaking to Times Radio on Thursday, Berry said: “I do think my language was a bit clumsy in that regard and I regret it.
“The point I was making … is that the government needs to go for growth to ensure that it can grow the economy and Britain can get a pay rise.
“You don’t have to tell me how hard people graft in this economy. I know how hard people work.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.