Boris Johnson said his government must do “everything it can to help people” through rising cost-of-living pressures as energy prices continue to rise.
The prime minister has promised “colossal” investment in green energy and vowed to use the UK’s rapid launch of the coronavirus vaccine as motivation to build more wind farms in a bid to produce alternative forms of energy.
He told the Conservative Party’s spring conference in Blackpool that Britain needed to guard against rising international energy prices, which he said were currently being intentionally fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to “weaken the collective will to resist” his attack on kyiv “by raising the cost of living, hitting us at the pumps and hitting our fuel bills.”
He added: “And so we have to respond, and we have to do everything we can to help people with their daily costs, help people with the cost of living.”
The comments come just days before Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak is due to deliver his spring statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The UK government has already announced a £200 deferral-style system to soften the blow of rising energy bills in 2022/23, while some households will also receive a £150 council tax rebate.
But the comments are likely to be read as a hint that more help could be on the way in the spring statement, with households also braced for the impact of the 1.25 percentage point increase in national insurance contributions, an increase of taxes designed to fund the clean-up of the Covid-induced NHS Backlog.
Johnson, who said he first spoke at a Blackpool Conservative conference 25 years ago as a failed parliamentary candidate, said his impending energy security strategy, due to be published this month, will seek to reverse “years of short-termism”.
“If we are going to deal with the biggest cost facing families now and address these rising fuel bills, peak power, we must take the bold steps necessary to end our dependence on oil and gas from Putin,” he told Winter. Gardens. audience.
“And that’s what we’re doing. In the immortal phrase, it’s time to take back control of our energy supplies.
“After years of short-termism and precarious solutions, we are establishing a British energy security strategy and will make better use of our own natural hydrocarbons rather than import them at a very high price from abroad.”
The Conservative leader said using Britain’s own fuel supply “in no way means we will abandon our push for a low-carbon future”, vowing to make “big bets” on nuclear power, including small nuclear reactors. modular.
He added: “And we’re going to take that bull spirit in a booster launch gate and use it to build more offshore wind power in twice as fast time and a lot of other clean, green energy investments.”
Raising the question of how potential investment in renewables could be paid for, the prime minister said he had spoken to international investors who were “eager to make colossal long-term investments in British green infrastructure”.
Johnson delivered his speech after earlier this week in Saudi Arabia, where he was trying to encourage Riyadh to increase its oil production as the West seeks to disconnect from energy supplies from Moscow.
In a 24-minute speech focused largely on the UK’s response to the war in Ukraine, Johnson argued that the battle for democracy in Eastern Europe highlighted the freedoms people enjoyed in Britain.
He used those comments to wade into the so-called culture war, telling supporters on Saturday: “We don’t need to be woken up, we just want to be free.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, whose speech preceded the prime minister’s, also criticized the “constant self-questioning” of the UK’s identity.
Ms Truss, who is also equality minister, said it was “time to end… the ridiculous debates about languages, statues and pronouns”.