HAS anyone seen Boris Johnson or Nadhim Zahawi?

The UK is facing the worst cost-of-living crisis for decades, it is estimated that 27 million households across the UK are about to be plunged into fuel poverty – no less than 53% of households – but the two most senior figures in the British government are nowhere to be seen.

Normally, the less we see of the showboating buffoon whom the Tory party still hanker after as Prime Minister the better, but even though a Conservative leadership contest is underway, Johnson is still Prime Minister, and his enabler Zahawi is still Chancellor of the Exchequer. They have important jobs to do – jobs they are not doing.

This is all the more galling because they belong to the party which is always screaming at Nicola Sturgeon to get on with the day job. With a recorded sound level of -20.6dB, Microsoft's anechoic chamber holds the Guinness Record for "World's Quietest Place". This is an error, the quietest place in the world is in fact the Scottish Conservative benches at Holyrood when it comes to justified criticism of their bosses at Westminster, which in turn makes the sound of Conservative hypocrisy deafening.

On Monday, the Government ruled out summoning a meeting of the civil emergencies Cobra committee to address the cost-of-living crisis. The refusal came after former prime minister Gordon Brown had called for "urgent measures" to be introduced to help millions of households deal with the sharp rises in fuel bills which are expected in October, the second large rise in bills this year.

Brown warned that a financial time bomb was set to explode in October which will condemn millions to dire poverty over the winter as they are faced with a choice between buying food or heating their homes.

Brown called on Johnson, as well as leadership hopefuls Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, to agree on an emergency budget this week and said Parliament should be recalled if they failed to do so. The support measures offered by the Government are unlikely to bridge the gap left by rising costs.

A report commissioned by Brown and carried out by Professor Donald Hirsch at Loughborough University found that the support for low-income households will not offset the losses they face amid the cost-of-living crisis, with inflation rising to levels not seen for decades, leading to rising bills for food and other essentials as well as electricity and gas. Some families who are already struggling to make ends meet could be up to £1600 worse off a year.

Brown's call has been rejected by the Government which asserts that the new prime minister will tackle the problem. In a statement, Downing Street said: "By convention, it is not for this Prime Minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period. It will be for a future prime minister."

Meanwhile, Truss and Sunak, the two leadership candidates, are more interested in making promises about tax cuts that they hope will appeal to Conservative Party members than they are in introducing measures to help the poorest people in Britain and stop them falling into penury. There's not a lot of advantage in assisting the low-paid and people on benefits in a Conservative leadership contest. In fact, helping those most in need is more likely to be detrimental to their chances. 

However, right now, there is no one at the wheel of the Brexit bus and disaster is looming. The British Government has gone missing and millions will suffer while senior Conservatives seek to climb the career ladder. If it was the Scottish Government that was behaving so irresponsibly it would dominate the Scottish media and it would be Douglas Ross and his colleagues who were screaming the loudest.  But right now they are as missing in action as their bosses are.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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