simon clark, the new upgrade secretary, was taking part in the morning round of interviews on behalf of the government this morning. Echoing what his boss said at PMQs yesterday, he said imposing a new windfall tax on energy companies would be a mistake. He told LBC:
These companies are the people we will absolutely rely on to deliver this next generation of oil and gas extraction on the road to energy self-sufficiency.
We need to go much, much further in bringing new fields online.
That is why we need these companies to invest in the North Sea.
We cannot do what Labor would do, which is just tax, tax, tax.
Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary for climate change and net zero, was also on the Today show this morning where he reiterated Labor’s call for a windfall tax to be used to part-fund a bailout for energy bills. He said the government’s argument that it would deter investment was “wrong”. And he said Truss’s decision to shelve the idea showed the government had swung to the right. He said:
This investment argument is completely false; that would have a detrimental effect on business.
Bernard Looney, BP’s chief executive, says it would have no ill effect.
It’s a dogma, and I’m afraid we see a trend here. This is a right shift by the Conservative Party under Liz Truss. Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have finally come to terms with our idea of a windfall tax.
We now have a government that opposes it solely on the basis of dogma.
Hello. Liz Truss has been Prime Minister for less than 48 hours, but she is set to make an announcement that could define her position as Prime Minister. If her plan to keep energy bills from skyrocketing backfires or falls apart, it’s hard to see how she’ll recover. But if he receives a positive reception, then Truss, whose ratings with the general public are very poor, and his party, which trails Labor far behind in the polls, could be on the road to recovery.
Here’s our overnight splash laying out what we expect.
And here’s an analysis from my colleague Archie Bland, who reviewed the plan in his First Edition briefing.
This morning Labor renewed its attack on Truss for failing to consider using a windfall tax to part-fund the energy bailout. Ed Milibandshadow secretary for climate change and net zero, told the BBC:
We know from the Treasury that there is £170bn of excess profits made by the energy companies. We believe that a windfall tax has to be part of the solution to this, it’s the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.
I’m afraid Liz Truss is making a terrible mistake in confronting this because at the end of the day higher loans will have to be paid one way or another and it will end up falling on the British people, and she leaves many the money on the table that these companies are making.
But there was a much more encouraging response for Truss from Martin Lewis, the consumer champion and founder of the MoneySavingExpert site. Lewis is the go-to expert on consumer issues – the equivalent of John Curtice on the election or Paul Johnson on the IFS on budgets – and he’s been described as one of Britain’s most trusted men . An endorsement from him really matters, and on the Today show this morning he gave a qualified welcome to what Truss is doing. He said:
I said we have a disaster coming in the winter. By January, we expect to see the [energy] price cap 120% higher than it is now, more than double. And my big call has always been that we have to have the political will to do something.
Well, I think we now have the political will. And I very much welcome the plans that are said to be coming out today. They are not perfect. Again, I haven’t seen any perfect solution. They are not the panacea. But they will meet millions, if not tens of millions of people, breathe a sigh of relief knowing they will be able to pay their energy bills this winter.
But it is clear that more work will have to be done on the poorest in society to ensure that they can get by. We need clarity on whether the remaining benefit payments, the disability payments that were planned and announced in May, are still going to happen.
But I think we have to be fair here. And as someone who’s begged and begged for more help to come out, well, it’s more help.
The big advantage of this policy is that it helps everyone. The big problem with this policy is that it helps everyone. This means rich people like me also see our bills reduced. But, overall, I think we have to welcome the fact that something is being done and the political will has changed.
I will focus almost exclusively on Truss’ announcement today. It will come after 11.15am, when Truss unveils the plan in a speech in the Commons opening a general debate on energy costs. Unusually, she chose to make the announcement in this format rather than through a normal ministerial statement – which would have required her to answer questions about her plans for over an hour.
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