Holidaying while Britain burns? Boris Johnson and Nadhim Zahawi in ‘regular contact’ with ministers

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A Cabinet minister defended Boris Johnson and Nadhim Zahawi’s holiday plans today amid criticism that they are abroad while economists warn of a looming economic disaster.

Mr Johnson and Carrie are believed to be in Slovenia on a ‘mini-moon’ after a belated wedding celebration last weekend. 

At the same time, Chancellor Mr Zahawi has whisked his family off to their holiday home abroad, with Uk politics having largely shut down for the summer.

Completing a sense of a political vacuum, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is also on holiday. 

It came as the Bank Of England sent out a dire warning for the state of the economy in the coming months.

It predicted a five-quarter recession starting late this year and inflation hitting 13 per cent, up from a previous estimate of 11 per cent.

No10 has previously said that the PM will be keeping abreast of events while away. And this morning Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he is in ‘regular’ contact with both men, adding: ‘I’m here, I’m in your studio, I’m in a suit, I’m not on holiday’.

Asked where the Chancellor is, Mr Kwarteng told Sky News: ‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer is always available.’

Mr Johnson and Carrie are believed to be in Slovenia on a 'mini-moon' after a belated wedding celebration last weekend. They are due back in the UK at the weekend.

Mr Johnson and Carrie are believed to be in Slovenia on a ‘mini-moon’ after a belated wedding celebration last weekend. They are due back in the UK at the weekend.

At the same time, Chancellor Mr Zahawi has whisked his family off to their holiday home abroad, with Uk politics having largely shit down for the summer.

At the same time, Chancellor Mr Zahawi has whisked his family off to their holiday home abroad, with Uk politics having largely shit down for the summer.

Asked where the Chancellor is, Mr Kwarteng told Sky News: 'The Chancellor of the Exchequer is always available.'

Asked where the Chancellor is, Mr Kwarteng told Sky News: ‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer is always available.’

He added: ‘I’m in contact with him. I’ve just spoken to him … on WhatsApp this morning, he’s completely abreast of what’s going on.

‘I’m the Business Secretary, I’m here, I’m in your studio, I’m in a suit, I’m not on holiday. And we’re absolutely focused on trying to deal with this problem.’

He said he is in ‘regular contact with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. They are completely on top of what’s happening’.

Mr Johnson will not have long left in office upon his return, with Tory leadership contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak currently vying to replace him in No 10 on September 6.

Asked this week who would be in charge while Mr Johnson was away, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘It will be the standard pattern.

‘The Prime Minister will be updated as required… the Deputy Prime Minister and, as ever with a Cabinet government, other ministers will be on hand to support as needed.’

Neither Mr Zahawi nor chief secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke were in Whitehall when the Bank of England yesterday announced the biggest rise in interest rates for 27 years.

Mr Zahawi defended his absence, insisting ‘for me… there is no such thing as a holiday and not working’. 

He said: ‘I never had that in the private sector, not in Government. Ask any entrepreneur and they can tell you that.’

Mr Zahawi added that the ‘responsibility of public service means that you never get to switch off, that’s why I have had calls and briefings every day’.

A Treasury source said Mr Clarke was not in the office but was in London and ‘working’ yesterday.

Mr Zahawi was handed the job of Chancellor last month after Rishi Sunak quit. A day after his appointment he told the Prime Minister he should resign.

He stood as a candidate in the Tory leadership contest but was eliminated in the first round of voting by Tory MPs after he failed to get the required minimum of 30 backers.

Some of Mr Johnson's previous trips have proved controversial. A Spanish holiday in a villa owned by the family of minister Lord Goldsmith, also in 2021 (above), drew criticism over transparency.

Some of Mr Johnson’s previous trips have proved controversial. A Spanish holiday in a villa owned by the family of minister Lord Goldsmith, also in 2021 (above), drew criticism over transparency.

Mr Zahawi formally endorsed Liz Truss to be the next leader at the weekend. Mr Clarke is another of her supporters.

The Chancellor praised the Foreign Secretary’s ‘booster’ economic approach while suggesting Mr Sunak was a ‘doomster’.

Some of Mr Johnson’s previous trips have proved controversial.

The Prime Minister was reported to have begun a holiday in Somerset while the Taliban was advancing on Afghanistan’s capital last summer, before swiftly returning to Westminster.

A few weeks later he came under scrutiny again when he left Downing Street for a four-day trip with his family as Britons and Afghans remained stranded after the withdrawal of forces from Kabul. At the time, No 10 declined to describe the trip as a holiday, and insisted he was ‘continuing to work’.

And a Spanish holiday in a villa owned by the family of minister Lord Goldsmith, also in 2021, drew criticism over transparency.

Labour criticised Mr Johnson for declaring a free holiday at the villa on the list of ministers’ interests but not on the parliamentary register which could require the publication of more details such as the value of the stay.

Dev

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