MPs under fire for Commons recess during ‘autumn of discontent’

MPs have been slammed for a near month-long parliamentary break as the UK enters an “autumn of discontent”.

The latest recess for the House of Commons runs from close of business on Thursday until October 18 to enable Labour and Conservative MPs to attend their party conferences.

It means the Commons pauses again three weeks after MPs returned following the summer recess.

SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart said: “We will be taking a month off when the UK is facing an autumn of discontent, when hard-pressed families are facing one of the biggest assaults on their weekly incomes.

“As this House abandons its station to the conference halls and seaside resorts, there’s Universal Credit cuts, energy prices going through the roof, a CO2 crisis, driver shortages, farming chaos, fishing chaos, an export crisis, the ending of furlough and Brexit killing a nation.

“This nonsense of a conference recess has surely run its course and it must now come to an end.

“We also face an environment crisis but, hey, we’ve got the Prime Minister telling us all to grow up as he quotes Kermit The Frog. Maybe he should have got Kermit the Frog to negotiate a trade deal with the Americans while he was there, maybe we could even have got Fozzie Bear to solve the energy crisis.

“How dare anybody even start to refer to them as a bunch of muppets.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met US President Joe Biden during his visit
Prime Minister Boris Johnson met US President Joe Biden during his visit to America this week (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Prime Minister Mr Johnson had earlier used a speech to the United Nations General Assembly to outline his ambitions to address climate problems.

On Jim Henson’s creation, Mr Johnson said Kermit was wrong when he sang It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green, adding it was “easy, lucrative and right” to be green.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, in response to Mr Wishart, said parliamentary staff were “due to have this break” after working hard to make the estate safe.

Sir Lindsay added: “The staff also deserve a break, they need a break, I want to thank them for all that they do.”

Earlier, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg defended plans to end the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift within days – after Labour said it was “not too late to cancel that cut”.

Mr Rees-Mogg said: “There are a hundred-thousand fewer children in absolute poverty than since 2010, in total there are 700,000 fewer in absolute poverty than in 2010.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said parliamentary staff needed a break (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

“In 2019, there was 3% chance of children being in absolutely poverty if both parents worked full-time, which is why it is so important to ensure that work is available, and since 2010, we have seen 650,000 fewer children in workless households.”

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire had said: “Last week he tried to boast about his Government’s record on child poverty, but they are pushing 200,000 more children into poverty by cutting Universal Credit.

“It is not too late to cancel that cut. This is certainly not something to boast about.”

On soaring energy prices, Mr Rees-Mogg accused Labour of promoting “hair shirt” environmentalism.

He said: “We know that energy prices fluctuate – that is part of a market system. They are fluctuating across the world. We do have a robust energy system. We have a system that ensures that supplies continue, but there is a certain irony, isn’t there, that the socialists have wanted us half the time to close everything down.

“They don’t much like energy because they think we should have hair shirt greenery.”