WATCH: How Prime Minister Boris Johnson answers the Blackpool Gazette's questions about help for resort's struggling families, the future of fracking in Blackpool and war in Ukraine.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Blackpool for the Conservative Spring conference at the brand new Winter Gardens Conference centre – so the Gazette sat down and put some key questions to him ahead of his speech on Saturday.

By Nicola Adam
Saturday, 19th March 2022, 6:12 pm
Updated Saturday, 19th March 2022, 6:42 pm

As the cost of living spirals we pointed out that just metres away from the corporate glamour of the Spring conference, people in Blackpool were homeless and struggling to feed their families or heat their homes.

What assurances could the Prime Minister give that help was on the way for Blackpool families?

The Prime Minister said: “We do understand the cost of living pressures that people are facing right now and I certainly see and feel it and I can appreciate very much how difficult people are finding it.

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Blackpool Gazette editor Nicola Adam interviews Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, before his speech at the conference. Day two of the Conservative Party Spring Conference, held at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool on March 19, 2022

"The key thing is we target support where people need it most so help local councils with billions of extra funding for families in particular need, help people with the cost of fuel in particular and do what we can to support people in employment and also those who are not in employment. Help people with costs of childcare, with uplift in universal credit and also the living wage and that will continue to increase.

"The best answer to this problem many people are facing are high wage jobs and lots of jobs.

"We’ve got a situation now where the economy is actually performing very strongly considering what we have been through.

"We have lots of people now in employment; employment is back where it was ahead of the pandemic.

Blackpool Gazette editor Nicola Adam interviews Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, before his speech at the conference. Day two of the Conservative Party Spring Conference, held at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool on March 19, 2022

"We have a particular crisis caused by what’s happening in Ukraine and the pressure on fuel. The fuel spike hits everything; because when inflation goes up for fuel it drives costs up, agriculture, food.

"We have to be more energy secure and independent and make sure the world is not being blackmailed by Vladimir Putin in Russia who supplies a lot of the energy to Europe and who is able to do a lot to manipulate the price – we’ve seen what has been happening.

"So in the medium term we want to relieve the pressure on British families by a massive programme of investment in energy supply.

"That can include much more wind, nuclear and our own hydrocarbons here in the North Sea and UK, and we’ll make sure we are much ore resilient and that that will give people a sustainable, long term, prospect of lower prices.

Interview with Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, before his speech at the conference. Day two of the Conservative Party Spring Conference, held at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool.

"In the short term, immediately right now for families who have to keep the heating on and lights on – we have to help – and that’s why we have given a big rebate on council tax. £9.1bn of taxpayers money going in to support that.”

Will fracking be back in Blackpool?

Fracking has been very successful in the United States,” said the Prime Minister.

"But it’s not been successful here and I think the one time it was tried there was quite a big earthquake or tremor.

"The policy that we have is we want a moratorium on fracking until the science says it’s sensible or deliverable.

"I will personally keep an open mind but I think there are other things that that will deliver energy for us sooner and with less public anxiety.”

Question posed by the Gazette on behalf of Ukrainian family living in Lancashire : If you were in the placed of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for just one minute, on hour or one day – what would you do in this time to stop the killing of your own people?

The Prime Minister said: “I think I would do exactly what he is trying to do doing which is to rally his country and he has done that incredibly effectively. I think he’s been an amazing war leader, he’s totally inspirational.

“And I think what I would do try to do involve as many friends and allies as I can in my struggle and that’s what he’s also trying to do.

"I spoke to him yesterday morning, I’ve spoken to him the whole time, he’s been absolutely brilliant in getting us all to help as much as he can

“What he wants is a no-fly zone over Ukraine and there are ways we can help that stop short of sending in British fighter pilots to shoot down Russian fast jets. We need to think that we can do to help the people of Ukraine and stop them being bombarded– but I don’t think I could improve on what he’s been doing, I think he’s been outstanding.”

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