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Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland leaders urge Truss to tackle cost of living crisis

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A protest against the spiraling cost of living crisis in the United Kingdom.

The leaders of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well as the Mayor of London have urged the new British prime minister to immediately freeze energy prices to tackle the worsening cost of living crisis.

Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford, Michelle O’Neil, and Sadiq Khan offered their full cooperation to the incoming prime minister Liz Truss and urged her to introduce a package of emergency measures that would ease the suffering of households across the United Kingdom.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, said the political differences between them are "deep", but she will seek to build a "good working relationship" with Truss.

"She must now freeze energy bills for people & businesses, deliver more cash support, and increase funding for public services,” Sturgeon wrote on Twitter.

Congratulations to Liz Truss. Our political differences are deep, but I will seek to build a good working relationship with her as I did with last 3 PMs.
She must now freeze energy bills for people & businesses, deliver more cash support, and increase funding for public services

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 5, 2022

Sturgeon has a long-running political rivalry with Truss as she has called the Scottish first minister an “attention seeker” who should be ignored.

“I think the best thing to do with Nicola Sturgeon is ignore her. I’m sorry, she’s an attention seeker, that’s what she is," Truss said last month.

She later suggested that she was referring to the first minister’s calls for a second Scottish independence vote in 2023, and insisted she also wanted constructive relations with Edinburgh.

Similarly, the first minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said they need to work together "with urgency".

 “We now need to work together, with urgency, to tackle the cost of living crisis, and save millions from hardship this winter. There is no more time to waste – action is needed now," he said.

Speaking on the BCC, Drakeford said comments made by Truss comparing him to a "low-energy" Jeremy Corbyn "do not matter to families throughout Wales who live in fear of what this winter might bring to them".

He said he looks forward to "positive relationships" with the new administration but added that it was "astonishing that Truss should suggest that what we need is to make ourselves more unequal in order to succeed".

O’Neil, leader of Sinn Fein and the Northern Ireland Executive, in his statement called on Truss to respect the Good Friday Agreement by not fiddling with the Northern Ireland Protocol to pacify unionists.

“We need a serious change of tack from Liz Truss and the British government. The Good Friday agreement must be honored and the assembly election result respected. People voted for real change, and as the first minister designate my priority is to restore the executive to deliver change," he wrote on Twitter.

Also, shortly after Truss was announced as the winner of the Conservative leadership election, London Mayor Khan warned that she was taking over “at a time of national crisis,” adding that “we've got to work together in the national interest, not the party political interests.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he hopes incoming prime minister Liz Truss “puts aside the culture wars” which have been key topics of debate during the Tory leadership contest.

— TalkTV (@TalkTV) September 5, 2022

In an Op-Ed for the newspaper CityAM, Khan asked Truss to take a more collaborative approach with the regions and nations than her predecessors, setting out a detailed list of interventions to combat the economic crisis.

“In the short term, the new prime minister must take whatever steps necessary to ease the pressures on household budgets to ensure people can keep their heads above water,” Khan said.

He said the most necessary steps include providing free school meals to all primary school children, uplifting Universal Credit in line with inflation, freezing the energy price cap, and introducing a Lifeline Tariff to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the society receive a basic amount of free energy every day.

Khan warns Truss of rising living costs, food insecurity 

Earlier this week, Khan tweeted that the cost of living crisis in winter will force families to choose to heat their homes or buy food.

He suggests a “Covid-style” support package as an immediate solution for helping families with lower incomes facing soaring energy bills this autumn and to survive this winter.

The cost of living crisis will force families to make unimaginable decisions this winter, like whether to heat their homes or buy food.

The Govt could ease this burden by providing free school meals to all primary school children.

It’s the right thing to do.

— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) September 3, 2022

Meanwhile, a City Hall survey revealed that between November last year and this February the number of lower-income Londoners living with food insecurity remained at 44 percent in 2021-2022.

Also, 20 percent of lower-income Londoners have regularly or occasionally gone without food or essential items or relied on outside support in the last six months

The Mayor sought immediate action to combat the surging costs of food and energy, as the UK inflation reaches 10.1 percent and is predicted to skyrocket to 18 percent next year.

The former foreign secretary beat her rival, former finance minister Rishi Sunak, by 81,326 votes (%57.4) to 60,399 (%42.6), after a summer-long divisive battle sparked by Johnson's resignation in July.

‘It doesn’t matter who the prime minister is’

The 47-year-old new British premier takes office amid challenging economic conditions, with skyrocketing energy bills, a deteriorating economy, and inflation at a 40-year high.

The UK inflation rate is well ahead of that of the US and Germany at 8.5 percent.

Italy with 8.4 percent, Canada with 7.6 percent, France with 6.8 percent, and Japan with a 2.4-percent mark make up the remaining countries of the G7.

The new inflation rate signals a further deepening economic crisis for millions of Britons and shakes the food security in one of the largest economies in Europe.

A New York Times from one of London’s poorest boroughs, the Brixton Soup Kitchen, showed a world far removed from what the ruling elites in London are accustomed to.

Residents there can no longer afford to buy groceries because of skyrocketing energy and food costs and have to stand in lines to get a small plate of bread, fried plantains, and baked beans.

“Let’s invite Liz Truss down here so she can see what it’s really like,” said Rebecca Carnegie, one of the volunteers at the soup kitchen, which also provides other support for low-income residents.

“We’re still going to be here every day. It doesn’t matter who the prime minister is,” she added.

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