Labour goes nuclear: Starmer blasts PM for 'putting energy firms' profits ahead of Brits'

9 March 2022, 12:34 | Updated: 9 March 2022, 12:56

Sir Keir told Boris Johnson to impose a windfall tax on oil firms
Sir Keir told Boris Johnson to impose a windfall tax on oil firms. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson must impose new taxes on oil giants to help struggling Brits make ends meet, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The Government was told to U-turn and impose a windfall tax on major companies that enjoyed huge profits while ordinary people face soaring energy bills in the cost of living crisis.

The war in Ukraine and bid to sanction Russia and remove use of its natural resources in Europe is also expected to worsen the problem.

But the Prime Minister hit back, trumpeting his Government's already-announced interventions to help households and claiming Labour's plan would itself trigger price rises.

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Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Sir Keir said: "Before Russia invaded Ukraine, North Sea oil and gas companies were making bumper profits.

"BP made £9.5bn, Shell made £14bn - 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.

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"When will the Prime Minister admit he's got this badly wrong? Put a windfall tax on those super profits and use the money to cut household energy bills."

He called for support for new nuclear and renewables, while claiming the Tories had hampered on-shore wind use because of planning laws.

Mr Johnson fired back: "The net result of that would be to simply see the oil companies put their prices up yet higher and make it more difficult for them to do what we need them to do… and that is divesting from dependence on Russian oil and gas."

He added that "is the way forward for this country, it is to take a sober, responsible approach, end our dependence on hydrocarbons altogether, particularly Russian hydrocarbons", accusing Labour of making energy policy mistakes in the past.

Sir Keir also criticised the measures the Government unveiled previously to help Brits with the cost of living.

These include a £150 rebate on council tax for England’s homes that fall into bands A to D – covering about 80% of them.

A £200 discount for electricity customers will also be available but that has to be repaid over several years.

Sir Keir said: "I don't think the Prime Minister understands the mess he's in.

"Working families are facing a £700 spike in April, they won't even receive their £200 loan from the Chancellor until October."

He added: "By October.. household bills are set to shoot up by another £1,000. It's a total mess – so I ask again, when is the Prime Minister going to force the Chancellor to U-turn?"

Mr Johnson replied: "If he's asking the Chancellor to U-turn on the support that we're giving to families and households I think that he is absolutely out of his mind.

"We are going to continue to give people support throughout this difficult period as we did throughout the coronavirus epidemic with unprecedented levels of support."