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Downing Street has defended Boris Johnson’s decision to go on holiday despite problems at home around soaring energy prices and supply chain issues.
The prime minister is currently taking a break with his family in Marbella, southern Spain, following the Conservative party conference in Manchester last week.
The timing of his holiday has been criticised given the ongoing energy crisis, which has left some industries reliant on gas warning of shutdowns over the winter.
The government is currently in talks with industry figureheads about the action needed to stave off a winter crisis, caused by rocketing gas prices.
But Downing Street defended Johnson’s decision to go away, saying he was continuing to work on government business.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said he had taken a call from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and was being updated on the work to address supply chain problems.
“The prime minister continues to be in charge as is always the case,” the spokesman said. “The prime minister has taken calls with leaders already and there will be others to follow.
“The prime minister has been kept regularly updated on the ongoing work to address the current issues around fuel and supply chains.
“He is in regular contact with with ministers and No 10. He is also continuing to take calls particularly in the run-up to Cop26.”
The spokesman refused to reveal the location of where Johnson was taking his break, but reports have suggested he is holidaying at the Marbella villa of environment minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park.
Asked whether Johnson had paid for the holiday himself, the spokesman replied: “Any declarations that need to be made will be made in the normal way, but I don’t have anything to add to that. I wouldn’t get into anything on location for security reasons.”
Some ministers have jumped to the prime minister’s defence regarding his holiday, including home office minister Damian Hinds, who told Sky News: “When is the right time?”
“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.”
Earlier on Monday, the director general of UK Steel, Gareth Stace, said now was “not the time” for Johnson to be on holiday.
“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,” he said.
And he urged the prime minister to “bang ministerial heads together” to avoid an industry crisis hitting his sector.
“This is a critical time,” he told LBC.
“The business secretary has also said it’s a critical situation, and therefore why is government just sitting on its hands and doing absolutely nothing at the moment?
“From my point of view, today, with the reported government infighting between the Treasury and BEIS, the prime minister now needs to bang ministerial heads together, take control and remember that if he does nothing, then his levelling-up ambition will be left in tatters.”