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U-turn on windfall tax? Boris Johnson refuses to rule out levy on oil giants profits

12 May 2022, 07:09 | Updated: 12 May 2022, 07:53

Boris Johnson spoke against windfall taxes
Boris Johnson spoke against windfall taxes. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out introducing a windfall tax, telling LBC that the Government "will have to look at it".

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The Prime Minister has faced increased pressure to introduce the tax as Brits continue to suffer from spiralling energy costs.

It comes as Shell and BP were among those to have made record first-quarter profits thanks to the increase in oil and gas prices.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Mr Johnson said: "The disadvantage with those sort of taxes is that they deter investment in the very things that we need to see them putting them in.

"They need to be investing in new technology, in new energy supplies for the UK."

"But the bosses say it won't deter them, Prime Minister," Nick hit back.

"Well then we'll have to look at it. What I say is I want them to make those investments - they've got to be making those investments - in new energy supply for our country."

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The PM also compared the types of energy used in the UK to Finland and Sweden.

"Here we are in Finland, we've just been in Sweden, those guys have done brilliantly," he said.

"They've got nuclear power in Sweden in a way that we don't have in the UK, they've got hydro, they've got all sorts of resilience that we don't have.

"We've got to build in that resilience.

Nick asked: "Are you ruling out a windfall tax?"

"I don't like them.

"I don't think they're the right way forward.

"I want those companies to make big, big investments."

The one-off tax would be intended to target oil and gas companies benefitting from something they were not responsible for - known as windfall.

For energy companies, they have benefitted from increased demand due to the pandemic as well as supply concerns amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Johnson further condemned Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, telling Nick that Vladimir Putin "must be stopped".

"This is an act of absolutely barbaric aggression against a country that literally had done nothing to offend him, had done nothing wrong, people were simply trying to lead their lives in peace," he said.

"He is continuing to shell, to bomb, to launch massive artillery attacks against innocent civilians – and he’s got to be stopped."

The Prime Minister spoke to LBC during a visit to Finland, where he signed a historic deal to help the country if they come under attack, as part of an agreement to boost defence and security co-operation.

Both countries have traditionally been neutral and are assessing whether to join Nato.

Asked by Nick whether the agreements are enough to deter Putin, Mr Johnson said: "These are countries that have been traditionally neutral, Sweden, Finland, they are countries that pose no conceivable threat to Russia. But you’ve got to look at what’s happening in Ukraine… that’s another country that posed absolutely no conceivable threat to Russia and yet it was attacked in a vicious and unprovoked way."

He added: "What we are saying today, us and the Swedes, us and the Finns, is that we will come to each other’s assistance in the event of an attack."

Listen on Global Player to hear Mr Johnson's remarks on Ukrainian refugees risking being sent to Rwanda and whether he is out of touch in the cost of living crisis.