A TORY minister has suggested Boris Johnson is acting in the national interest by going on holiday to Marbella in the middle of an energy crisis.
Damian Hinds said it was “important for the whole country” that the Prime Minister was able to “relax and unwind” at a private villa on the Costa del Sol.
It followed business leaders criticising Mr Johnson for spending a week in Spain while multiple problems mount up at home.
The UK Government will today hold more talks with industries facing production cuts because of a massive surge in energy costs caused by wholesale gas prices spiking.
Representatives from energy-intensive sectors such as steel, cement, chemicals, glass and paper met the Government will pick up talks today after failing to get help last Friday.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Sunday he was in talks with the Treasury about potential support, only to be slapped down and accused of “making things up” by the Chancellor’s officials.
Labour said the Government was sliding into chaos.
Mr Hinds, a Home Office minister, today defended Mr Johnson’s decision to go on holiday.
Pressed about the timing on Sky News, Mr Hinds said: “When is the right time? I think it is important that people do have an opportunity to be with their families to have some relaxing, unwinding.
“But I wouldn’t want to overstate the amount of unwinding and relaxing you get to do as Prime Minister because as I say you are constantly in touch, you are constantly being briefed and you remain in charge of the Government.”
He later added: “What is important for the rest of us actually, for the whole country, is that the Prime Minister does get to have some family time, does get to have a break.”
Mr Hinds also denied Mr Kwartend had lied when he said he was in talks with the Treasury, saying “of course not” when the suggestion was put to him.
He said: “These unnamed sources stories come out from time to time.
“The fact is, government departments, government ministers, talk to each other the whole time, and of course with an issue like this, with these rising global prices and business having to grapple and deal with it to make sure they break even and can make a margin.
“Of course that is something that the business secretary – and of course the energy secretary – is going to be totally focused on.”
Labour shadow Treasury minister Pat McFadden said he “doesn’t care” whether or not Mr Johnson is currently on holiday.
The MP, also a former shadow business secretary, said: “I honestly don’t care where he is. What I want is grip from the Government. Whether he’s in Spain, whether he is in the UK, it seems just as chaotic when the Prime Minister is here.
“So, frankly, I’m not concerned whether he’s on holiday or not. What I want is grip from the Government, and we haven’t got that at the moment.”
Gareth Stace, the director general of UK Steel, said of the trip: “I’m sure he can get on the phone and get talking to them but to my mind, now is not the time for a Prime Minister to be on holiday, from the steel sector point of view.”
Holidays have at various times caused difficulties for Mr Johnson’s Government.
Dominic Raab was demoted from his role as foreign secretary after criticism for staying on vacation in Crete while the Taliban marched back to power in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister himself also endured months of scrutiny after a trip to the Caribbean island of Mustique in 2019.
He was ultimately cleared of breaking the MPs’ code of conduct after an investigation into whether he adequately registered £15,000 worth of accommodation paid for by a Tory donor.