Keir Starmer urged Boris Johnson to “make up his mind” and impose a windfall tax on North Sea energy companies, adding that the PM is “choosing to let the people fight” by delaying any action. additional.
During other prime minister questions dominated by the cost of living, Starmer used all six questions on a single topic. He criticized Johnson for his refusal to use a windfall tax to lower energy bills, saying this would inevitably happen and that “hesitation” was causing significant damage.
“Doesn’t he see that every day he delays his inevitable u-turn, he’s going to, is he choosing to let people fight when they don’t have to?” said the Labor leader in the Commons.
The prime minister had his “head in the sand in the midst of an economic crisis,” Starmer argued, citing a number of occasions in recent weeks when Johnson had promised swift action to help people with the cost of living.
“Doesn’t the prime minister realize that workers across the country can’t afford to wait while he dithers? It’s time for him to decide.
Johnson and his ministers have repeatedly said they oppose the idea of a single tax on North Sea oil and gas companies, which have made significant profits amid higher energy costs, as this could affect future investment. .
However, some ministers, notably Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak, have left open the possibility of using such a tax if energy companies do not reinvest enough profits.
Johnson similarly did not rule out the idea entirely, saying: “We will of course consider all sensible steps. But we will be driven by considerations of growth, investment and jobs.”
He also condemned Labor for seeking “always and everywhere to raise corporate taxes”, and said the government had already put in place measures to help people with higher bills.
Starmer called Johnson’s approach “as clear as clay”, noting that a number of Conservative MPs and business figures have now backed the idea of a windfall profits tax.
“You just don’t get it, do you?” Starmer said. “He doesn’t really understand what working families in this country are going through, struggling with how they’re going to pay their bills.
“And while you hesitate, British households are slapped with an extra £53m on their energy bills every day.”
Starmer continued: “He is on the side of excessive profits for oil and gas companies. We are on the side of the working people. And there you have it.”
The Labor leader raised the case of a man who needs overnight dialysis for a kidney condition, and who feels “burdened with existence” by the energy bills this brings, having to turn off the heating and skip meals.
“The decisions we make here matter,” Starmer said. “The cost of indecision is enormous. People across the country need action now. The plans are already there. So prime minister, stop the delay. Work with us to put them in their place. Do it for households facing bills they can’t pay.”