'Prime minister. Stop. Talking': Moment Boris Johnson and BBC clash over food shortages and cost of living crisis

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Watch: Nick Robinson tells Boris Johnson to ‘stop talking’ on Radio 4's Today programme

Boris Johnson was told to “stop talking” by a BBC presenter during an extraordinary radio interview.

The prime minister was cut off by Radio 4’s Today programme host Nick Robinson during an often heated encounter on Tuesday morning.

At one point, Robinson told Johnson: “Prime minister, stop talking.

“We are going to have questions and answers, not where you merely talk, if you wouldn’t mind.”

It was Johnson's first appearance on the programme for two years.

He was abruptly interrupted by Robinson during an interview that encompassed the current fuel crisis, potential food shortages and the cost of living.

It was one of a series of interviews given by Johnson to media on Tuesday morning from the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

BBC political journalist Nick Robinson at No 10 Downing Street in central London.
BBC Radio 4's Today programme presenter Nick Robinson told Boris Johnson to 'stop talking'. (PA)

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Johnson told Robinson: “This country is at a turning point and we can’t go on.

“If you look at the productivity of the UK, we have undershot all our major competitors for two decades or more, and that is because we have a low-wage, low-cost approach where business does not invest in skills, does not invest in capital or facilities.

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“Look at the road haulage industry that we’re talking about. The fact is that they haven’t been putting money into truck stops, into conditions, into pay. 

"So there’s no supply of young people in this country who, frankly, at the moment are thinking of becoming truck drivers. That is going to change, and it’s going to be a good thing.”

It was at this point that Robinson told Johnson to “stop talking” before the interview resumed.

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Johnson said businesses should pay their workers “a little bit more” to help them with the increasing cost of living.

“I know it is tough for people and I understand that people on low incomes are working very very hard at present to make ends meet,” he said.

“What I think is wrong is to take more money in taxation and use it to subsidise low pay. We have a new fund, a £500m fund, to help people through the winter.

“What I think should happen is that organically business and industry should be paying people a little bit more in order to help them.”

In a separate interview with LBC Radio, Johnson defended the controversial cut to Universal Credit, arguing the taxpayer should not subsidise low wages.

The £20-a-week temporary uplift in the benefit ends on Wednesday, hitting millions of households.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is interviewed by Nick Ferrari on LBC, from their studio at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Picture date: Tuesday October 5, 2021. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
Boris Johnson talking to LBC Radio on Tuesday morning from the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. (PA)

Johnson said: “I understand that people feel times are difficult at the moment because we have got an economy that’s coming out of a very tough period with the COVID pandemic and it’s growing strongly now.

“We’ve got the fastest economic growth in the G7.

“What we won’t do is take more money in tax to subsidise low pay through the welfare system.”

In a separate interview with BBC television, Johnson said just 127 drivers had applied for fuel tanker visas to help alleviate the UK’s petrol pump crisis.

He said the haulage industry had been asked to provide the details of drivers who were willing to come to Britain, and it had only given 127 names. 

"What that shows is the global shortage," Johnson said.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves a studio after a broadcast media interview on the third day of the annual Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Central convention centre in Manchester, northwest England, on October 5, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson leaves a studio after a broadcast media interview on the third day of the annual Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Tuesday. (AFP via Getty Images)

Robinson had asked Johnson to respond to comments made by clothing retailer Next boss Lord Wolfson, who wrote in Tuesday’s Evening Standard that businesses should be allowed to hire staff from overseas to fill gaps in return for paying a visa tax.

Johnson said that for 20 or 25 years, businesses have been able to “mainline low-wage, low-cost immigration, for a very long time”.

He told Today: “And in some ways, of course, that worked very well, the people who came were fantastic, hard-working people, did a wonderful job.

“But what that resulted in was the suppression not just of pay, but also of conditions.”

“I think actually this country’s natural ability to sort out its logistics and supply chains is very strong.

“But what we won’t do is pull the lever marked ‘uncontrolled immigration’… and I don’t think that that is the way forward.”

Watch: PM says 127 visas for foreign tanker drivers immediately granted

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