Ann Widdecombe: Cut out cheese sandwiches if you can't afford them

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A former Tory minister has become the latest high-earning MP to tell hard-done Brits what they should and shouldn’t be eating.

Ann Widdcombe’s budgeting tip for families is to forgo cheese sandwiches if they can’t afford the amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Every ingredient in a basic cheese sandwich – bread, cheese and butter – has all shot up in price in the last 12 months, with a cheese sandwich costing 40p more.

This is an increase of 37%, research firm Assosia found, that comes as most basic essentials, rent, utility bills, taxes, interest rates and more go sky-high.

Widdecombe, an ex-Brexit Party MP, offered the solution to people’s money woes yesterday on the BBC’s Politics Live programme.

Presenter Jo Coburn asked: ‘What do you say to consumers who literally can’t afford to pay for even some of the basics if they have gone up the way that cheese sandwich has, with all its ingredients?’

‘Well then you don’t have the cheese sandwich,’ Widdecombe replied.

‘None of it’s new. We’ve been through this before.

‘The problem is we’ve been decades now without inflation, we’ve come to regard it as some kind of given right.’

Widdecombe laid the blame squarely on workers increasingly striking for wage increases as inflation has stubbornly remained in the double-digits for months.

The most recent figure, 10.4%, is far higher than in the US and Europe.

‘We just have to be as grown-up about this as we can and stop thinking it is solely a UK problem because it isn’t,’ Widdecombe said, adding that supermarkets have long held the ‘whip hand’ over price tags.

‘We also just have to learn the lessons of the past, which is that prices follow wages, follow prices, follow wages.’

She added: ‘The only way this is going to be tackled is if inflation comes down, you will not get inflation coming down while you have inflationary wage rises. And we have got to face that.

‘Some of the wage demands at the moment are utterly unrealistic. I lived through the 70s and that is exactly what happened.’

The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney, said: ‘How out of touch can you get?

‘Ann Widdecombe joins a long line of rightwing politicians who pin the blame on hard-working families for this government’s failures.’

It comes after Lee Anderson, a Tory MP on an £84,000 salary who also earns £100,000 per year for hosting a GB News show (per the MPs’ register of interests) said poorer families can’t book properly.

In May 2022, Anderson said there’s no need for food banks as people just need to learn how to cook 30p meals instead.

Likely not dropping a cookbook anytime soon, Anderson told the House of Commons at the time: ‘We’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly, not because people don’t know to cook but because we have poverty in this country which should shame his government.’

‘They can’t cook a meal from scratch, they cannot budget – the challenge is there.’

The MP for Ashfield in March said that some people use food banks as their ‘weekly shop’ and that it’s a ‘myth’ that people on Universal Credit are in poverty.

Food prices are now at their highest rate in more than 45 years, with some products having doubled in price compared to last year.

Recent inflation figures from Which? show the cost of pantry staples has swelled, such as white bread (by 22.8%) and porridge oats (33.3%).

The price tag on cheddar cheese at all eight supermarket brands – Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – soared by an average of 28%.

Dragon Welsh Mature Cheddar 180g at Asda increased by a thumping 80%, at £1.80 from £1 last year.

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