Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Boris Johnson said that he would bring forward a UK energy independence plan to help ensure a cost-of-living crisis can not happen again as it is now.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, rising energy, fuel and food prices have struck households across the UK, and Johnson said his government had introduced “unprecedented measures” to help ease the financial burden for people.
However, the Labour party called for an overhaul of plans to address rising energy bills, with opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer stressing that such costs should “never again be at the mercy of a dictator” and that a “new era of energy policy” was needed.
Fuel prices have risen even more sharply in recent weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting concerns about energy independence in Europe over reliance on Russian energy supplies.
Sir Keir also told MPs that measures to tackle rising prices prior to Russia’s incursion had been a “big gamble” in the hope that prices would eventually subside, but the bet now “looks certain to fail” as Moscow’s military assault pushes oil and gas costs higher.
Among the measures that the UK government has introduced, the Treasury has pledged a payment of £350 to households to help, with £150 of that to arrive before the energy price cap increase enters force and a further £200 to come in October.
The £200 payment comes in the form of a loan to be repaid in instalments over five years.
Sir Keir urged ministers to rethink the “forced” £200 loan and repeated his party’s calls for a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies which could help subsidise bills for households.
Sir Keir said: “Before Russia invaded Ukraine, North Sea oil and gas companies were making bumper profits. In their own words, more money than they know what to do with.
“Since then, the international price of oil and gas has skyrocketed and so will their profits. When will the prime minister admit he has got this badly wrong, put a windfall tax on those super profits and use the money to cut household energy bills?”
However, the PM said that he and his government would take a “sober, responsible approach” to “ending our dependence on hydrocarbons” as part of the energy independence plan, promising more investment in renewable energies and nuclear power.
While admitting that there will be “dark days ahead” as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues, Johnson was adamant that the UK “will come through it stronger” and said that Sir Keir was “out of his mind” to suggest changing direction on the support government had promised to households.
Johnson argued before the chamber that a windfall tax on energy companies would simply lead to them putting their prices up further.
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