'Compulsive liar': Backlash grows after footage shows Boris Johnson made misleading comment on inflation

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday January 5, 2022.
Boris Johnson has been accused of being a "compulsive liar" following a string of false claims during prime minister's questions on Wednesday. (PA Images)

Boris Johnson is facing growing anger after being accused of lying multiple times during prime minister questions (PMQs) on Wednesday as he was grilled on the growing cost of living crisis.

Labour has said the prime minister misrepresented the opposition’s position on a number of issues, including fears about rising inflation.

In October, in an interview with Sky News, Johnson played down concerns about rising inflation, saying: "People have been worried about inflation for a very long time, and those fears have been unfounded."

When challenged by deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner about his comments in parliament on Wednesday, he replied: "Of course, I said no such thing, because inflation is always something that we have to be careful about."

Watch: PMQs: Boris Johnson denies saying inflation fears were 'unfounded' - but Sky News has it on camera

When asked if he would correct the record on the comments, Johnson declined.

A spokesperson for the PM said on Thursday: "The prime minister was asked that question back in October and was responding about the situation in October."

The opposition have lambasted the prime minister over his remarks, with shadow health secretary Wes Streeting tweeting: "Even when confronted with his lies by @AngelaRayner, Boris Johnson can’t take responsibility and correct the record. Poor," he said.

Labour MP for Bermondsey & Old Southwark, Neil Coyle, simply tweeted: "Compulsive liar strikes again."

Read more: Rees-Mogg urges Chancellor to ditch national insurance rise

And shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News on Thursday: "Boris Johnson came on Sky a few weeks ago and said worries about inflation are unfounded.

"Yesterday, he said people are getting £140 a week – it's actually £140 a year some people get to help with their gas and electric bills.

"I think he's completely out of touch with the struggles or ordinary working people and families, and he just refuses to take action."

Other misleading claims made by the prime minister during PMQs on Wednesday included saying Labour had wanted a Christmas lockdown, that the Warm Homes Discount was £140 a week (it's £140 per month), and that poverty was declining.

The comments come following reports that inflation is set to rise to its highest levels since 1992 in April, hitting a huge 6.6% and putting further strain on struggling families while fuel bills surge and tax rises begin to bite.

The Resolution Foundation, a think tank on for low and middle income families, have said April could be catastrophic for families.

File photo dated 11/10/13 of a general view of a gas hob burning. The Government needs to show more urgency in curbing rising gas and electricity prices, an energy boss has said. Ovo chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick told the BBC the impact of soaring wholesale gas prices will be
Fuel bills have been predicted to rise by up to 50%. (PA Images)

"Rising inflation has focused minds on the cost of living squeeze this winter," they said. "These pressures are likely to build in the new year with further price rises outstripping pay growth.

"The spring looks particularly difficult, with April bringing a cost of living catastrophe affecting the vast majority of households: soaring energy bills and significant tax rises will see an annual income hit to the typical household of over £1,000."

In response to the growing crisis, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “Right now, people are being hit by a cost-of-living crisis which has seen energy bills soar, petrol and food prices up and the weekly budget stretched.

“That’s why Labour is calling on government to immediately remove VAT on household heating bills over the winter months.

“On top of the highest tax hikes in 70 years, Conservative complacency is leaving working people paying the price.”

Read more: Energy crisis: What is fuel poverty?

Concern over the government's strategy is also coming from within its own cabinet, with senior Tory and leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, reportedly lobbying for cancelling rises to national insurance.

The prime minister has ruled out cancelling planned rises in national insurance and cutting VAT on fuel bills — describing it as a "blunt instrument".

However, Johnson's spokesperson on Thursday did not deny the accuracy of reports that the government were considering a different package of measures to help struggling families.

Watch: Britons facing 'cost-of-living catastrophe' with average household £1,200 worse off, experts warn