BORIS Johnson hosted a lavish champagne bash and joked about Partygate hours before the cost-of-living bombshell landed.
The PM schmoozed Tory donors on the eve of energy prices rocketing, crippling tax hikes and even beer becoming more expensive.
Mr Johnson also laughed off the Met Police’s ongoing lockdown-breaking investigations, telling guests at Claridge’s in London’s Mayfair: “I can assure you that you won’t be sent any questionnaires for attending this event.”
Cabinet Ministers including Home Secretary Priti Patel and MPs were summoned — as Parliament broke up for Easter — to the five-star hotel for two hours on Thursday evening.
The aim was to woo wealthy backers into giving cash for the party’s marginal seats war chest.
Sources revealed around 150 guests ate “fancy canapés” and drank glasses of champagne — though the PM himself was not seen boozing. But the timing of the fundraising jolly will raise eyebrows, taking place the night before people were hit by a triple-whammy to their wallets.
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Energy bills soared by £700, council tax was hiked by an average £67 while phone and water bills jumped 11 per cent.
The price of a pint is also getting dearer as the VAT cut for hospitality finished — and all that before the National Insurance rise kicks in next week.
Last night Downing Street declined to comment about the Claridge’s bash.
Meanwhile, No 10 deputy chief of staff David Canzini presented ministerial aides with fresh polling showing the cost of living was the top public issue ahead of May’s local elections.
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Hopes of more support to cushion the squeeze were hinted at yesterday.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse revealed Chancellor Rishi Sunak is monitoring the situation “on an almost daily basis” and thinking about “what more we may be able to do to help”.
The Office for National Statistics yesterday said almost half of adults were struggling to pay their energy bills even before the biggest price jump in living memory came into effect.
Energy bosses claim Mr Sunak will have to come forward with billions of pounds more to help struggling families.
Bill Bullen, the chief of supplier Utilita, warned that elderly people and children were at serious risk of dying from cold.
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He added: “We’re going to see an extra £500 or £600 added to bills in October, and the Chancellor is going to have to fund that entirely for low-income households.”
The Government’s fuel poverty adviser Paul Massara said Mr Sunak’s £350 support package is “not sufficient and poorly targeted for those most in need”.
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