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Boris Johnson vowed to “put our arms around the country”, as the government scrambles to finalise a package of measures aimed at alleviating the cost-of-living crisis.

During an ill-disciplined Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer accused Johnson of presiding over the “twin-headed hydra” of rising inflation and interest rates.

He praised the Prime Minister for having “finally found sense” after he refused to rule out a U-turn on a one-off windfall tax on energy firms – a policy tabled by Labour – and said it was “delusional” for Johnson to claim the Conservatives are a low-tax party.

“Of course, we can be doing more,” Johnson said in response. “We took the tough decisions… We came out of Covid fast, which would not have been possible under a Labour government… We are helping people now.”

He also attacked the Labour leader for “running this country down”. And yet Starmer, in one of his wittiest gags to date, said: “I am told hindsight is a wonderful thing.”

Both leaders ignored the elephant in the room that was the Partygate scandal, as the PM delivered his statement on Sue Gray’s report immediately after PMQs.

Ian Blackford, however, chose to mention the results of the senior civil servant’s inquiry, accusing Number 10 of participating in “debauchery”.

The Scottish National Party’s leader in Westminster renewed his call for Johnson to resign, saying he has “lost what little authority he had left”. He said that the “Tory benches must act” in ousting their leader from Downing Street.

In the punchiest moment of the session, former shadow minister and member of the Socialist Campaign Group, Andy McDonald, said the PM has “blood on his bloody, privileged hands”.

Tory backbenchers spent the majority of the session cheering Johnson on, knowing the assault he would later receive from all sides of the House of Commons over Gray’s long-awaited report.