Boris Johnson backs Priti Patel in row with police over pay

Boris Johnson insisted the public understands the need for public sector pay restraint and backed his Home Secretary in the dispute with the Police Federation.

The Prime Minister insisted that “no one would want to pay our fantastic police more than I would” after freezing the salaries of all officers earning more than £24,000.

The dispute with the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has cast a shadow over Mr Johnson’s attempt to spend a week focusing on law and order issues.

The federation has declared it has no confidence in Priti Patel, but Mr Johnson said has has “absolutely every confidence in the Home Secretary”.

He told LBC Radio: “No one would want to pay our fantastic police more than I would. We are just going through a tough time financially for the Government, I think most people do understand that.

“I just ask people to recognise that but also that the Government is doing what it can to expand police numbers as fast as we can, also to give them things that they need – more body-worn cameras, greater ability to use Tasers, more powers for instance over stop and search, and protections against unreasonable behaviour by members of the public, assaults that all too often they face.”

The Prime Minister also repeated his desire to see more offenders carrying out community services as members of “chain gangs”.

“What I want to see is those who are guilty of anti-social behaviour actually paying their debt to society,” he said. “If that means that they are visibly part of some yellow fluorescent-jacketed chain gang then I am not going to weep any hot tears about that, I think that’s a good thing.”

The Prime Minister described Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick as a “formidable police officer” but declined to say whether she was the person to push through plans to tackle county lines drugs gangs.

Following reports the Scotland Yard chief will seek an extension to her contract next year, Mr Johnson said her job was a matter for London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Home Secretary.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Johnson told LBC there will still be “bumps on the road” but the UK is on course for a “steady economic recovery” following the impact of coronavirus.

The new national flagship, a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, will “revive the shipbuilding industry” and be a chance for the UK to “show itself off to the world”.

He would not comment on the “sayings of any of my former advisers” following criticism from Dominic Cummings about the influence of the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie in No 10

The Prime Minister also rejected Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove’s suggestion that people who refused a coronavirus vaccine were “selfish”.

“No, I think that I would put it the other way round and say if you get one you’re doing something massively positive for yourself, for your family,” he said.

Mr Johnson said despite seven successive days of failing coronavirus case numbers “the current situation still calls for a lot of caution and for people just to remember that the virus is still out there, that a lot of people have got it”.