Tory party chairman says he ‘has never bought tin of beans in his life’ when quizzed on cost of living crisis

Oliver Dowden gets price of milk right as his knowledge about supermarket own brand products is tested

Chiara Giordano
Friday 06 May 2022 15:26 BST
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<p>Oliver Dowden is a Tesco man (Jonathan Brady/PA)</p>

Oliver Dowden is a Tesco man (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Conservative Party said he has ‘never bought a tin of baked beans in his life’ when quizzed about the cost of living crisis.

Oliver Dowden was asked about supermarket own brand products on LBC after environment secretary George Eustice was criticised for suggesting consumers should swap to value goods as the cost of living crisis continues.

He told the radio station: “I’m afraid I rarely get the opportunity to go to the shops, given my extensive duties as chairman of the Conservative Party, but when I pop down to my local Tesco’s, of course I buy own-brand products.

“I wouldn’t know the price of a tin of baked beans - I’ll tell you why, I have never liked baked beans. I’ve never purchased a tin of baked beans in my entire life.”

He got the price of a pint of milk about right, guessing it cost “around 50p”.

Mr Eustice was branded “out of touch” as he was rounded on by political rivals and social commentators after saying shoppers could “contain and manage their household budget” by changing the brands they buy in supermarkets and elsewhere.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it showed how “out of ideas” the government is when it comes to understanding the issues facing those on the lowest incomes.

The Liberal Democrats said the cabinet minister was living in a “parallel universe”, while Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said that, for many people, there was “nothing” else they could cut to help make ends meet.

Mr Dowden defended the government’s actions to help people with the cost of living and said more measures could be taken.

He told BBC Breakfast: “No government is going to be able to buy people out of all of these problems, I just have to be honest with your viewers.

“It’s not going to be possible, but we have taken unprecedented action”.

He added: “You would expect when people are hurting - and I know people are hurting and I hear this on the doorstep and we all see it and I know your viewers will feel the same way - they’re sat around the kitchen table or in the front room thinking ‘how are we paying those bills?’.

“It’s incumbent on the government to look to see every further measure that we can take but what I would say is that we’ve already taken an unprecedented amount of action”.

The Tory chairman defended Boris Johnson over the partygate scandal and accusations he misled parliament as he downplayed Conservative losses and Labour gains in the local elections.

He said: “Of course we’ve had some difficult results and you can see that in London.

“I would say, though, that we are mid-term and it’s quite a mixed picture because you look elsewhere, whether that’s in Hartlepool or Nuneaton and Thurrock, we’ve actually made gains and I think if you take the whole picture of this, it really doesn’t demonstrate that Labour has the momentum to form the next government.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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