Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, today asked for a commitment from the Prime Minister that self-employed people would not be any worse off than employed people under the Government’s economic proposals to mitigate the coronavirus. The Prime Minister responded but would not agree to the commitment.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“When all this is over I think the Prime Minister will genuinely have earned himself a proper break on a paradise island. In that regard can I commend to him the paradise islands of Orkney and Shetland where we have a fantastic offer, built up over many decades, but which has at its heart the tour guides, the craft businesses, the small food and drink businesses who are overwhelmingly self-employed.
“Will the Prime Minister today give an assurance to these self-employed that when the offer of help comes, they will not be in any worse a position than they would be if they were in employment?”
Responding, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP said:
“I cannot in all candour promise the House that we will be able to get through this crisis without any hardship at all. He and I have talked face to face about the issue that he raises and we will do all we can to support the self-employed, just as we are putting our arms around every employed person in this country and I well understand the point that he makes.
“With regards to his invitation, he should be careful what he wishes for.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Prime Minister had the chance to make a very simple commitment to self-employed people and to give them the reassurance that they want, but he dodged it. That is worrying. In recent days I have heard from many constituents who are increasingly concerned about the lack of support from the Government, and I will continue to put these points across until they are addressed adequately. They are not unreasonable people. They know this is difficult. They do not demand that every “i” is dotted and that every “t” is crossed, but they do want to know that they will not be forgotten.”
“No one is expecting to get through this crisis without any hardship at all, as the Prime Minister suggested. All that self-employed people are asking for is for the same treatment and the same assurances as people in employment have already been given. I asked for a commitment on behalf of my constituents and the Prime Minister did not give it.”