Kwasi Kwarteng did not ‘tell porkies’ about industry support, says minister
Industries affected by soaring energy costs have made a fresh appeal to ministers for “immediate action” in a bid to prevent more businesses shutting down.
Sectors such as ceramics, paper and steel manufacturing have called for a price cap, with talks that began on Friday between the government and industry figures set to continue this afternoon. Business minister Lee Rowley will lead the meeting later, it has been reported, not the secretary of state Kwasi Kwarteng.
The Treasury has denied being in talks with Mr Kwarteng’s department about the crisis, which led to Gareth Stace, from UK Steel, accusing the government of “sitting on its hands and doing absolutely nothing”.
“From my point of view, with the reported government infighting between the Treasury and BEIS, the prime minister now needs to bang ministerial heads together, take control and remember that if he does nothing, then his levelling-up ambition will be left in tatters,” Mr Stace told LBC radio today.
However, a senior minister claimed earlier Mr Kwarteng did not lie when he said there were discussions between the two government departments. Asked by Sky News if the business secretary had been “telling porkies”, the Home Office minister Damian Hinds replied: “Of course not.”
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DUP boycotting north-south council ruled ‘unlawful’
The DUP’s boycott of north-south meetings in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol is unlawful, a High Court judge has ruled.
Mr Justice Scoffield delivered the declaration at Belfast High Court after a Belfast man, Sean Napier, brought an application for judicial review into the lawfulness of the DUP move.
The case centred around DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s announcement last month that his party would disengage with the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meetings as part of their campaign of opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Mr Justice Scoffield said:
“The respondents decision to withdraw the from the North South Ministerial Council was and is unlawful.
“It frustrates, is contrary to and is in breach of legal duties contained in the Northern Ireland Act.”
Sam Hancock11 October 2021 14:03
Changes to Northern Ireland Protocol essential to its survival, Downing Street says
The prime minister’s official spokesman said that while the UK had signed on to the Northern Ireland Protocol in “good faith,” the way that it was being operated by the EU was not working, and said that change was essential to its survival.
“It was formed in the spirit of compromise in challenging circumstances,” the spokesman said.
“Since then we have seen how the EU is inclined to operate governance agreements, issuing infraction proceeding against the UK at the first sign of disagreement.
“These arrangements aren’t sustainable, we need to find new ways of resolving issues that arise between us using mechanisms normal in other international treaties.
“It is unheard of for bilateral agreements being policed by the courts of one of the parties,” he added.
Celine Wadhera11 October 2021 13:48
Business Secretary announces agreement to ensure supplies of CO2 to businesses
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced that an agreement had been reached to guarantee the supply of carbon dioxide to businesses – including those in the food processing sector – without requiring additional taxpayer support.
Under the agreement CO2 suppliers have agreed to pay CF Fertilisers – the company that produces around 60 per cent of the UK’s commercial CO2 – a price for the gas that it produces, which will enable it to continue operating despite surging global gas prices.
Last month, the government agreed to an exceptional 3-week arrangement with CF Fertilisers that enabled the company to continue operations while industry moved towards this agreement, which will remain in place until January 2022.
Mr Kwarteng said: “Today’s agreement means that critical industries can have confidence in their supplies of CO2 over the coming months and without further taxpayer support.
“The government acted quickly to provide CF Fertilisers with the support it needed to kick-start production, and give us enough breathing space to agree a longer-term, more sustainable solution.”
Celine Wadhera11 October 2021 13:38
UK Steel Director General calls for Boris Johnson to address ‘exorbitant’ gas and electricity prices
Gareth Stace, the director general of UK Steel Gareth Stace, has called on Boris Johnson to “take direct action himself” to address “exorbitant gas and electricity prices” across the country.
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Stace said that the steel industry was already fulfilling the prime minister’s ambitions of a high-wage economy, but warned that soaring gas and electricity costs could undo the progress that had been made.
He added: “Come on prime minister, step in now directly yourself and address this issue before it’s too late”.
Celine Wadhera11 October 2021 13:25
Business secretary backed by Downing Street in Treasury dispute
Downing Street has backed business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in his dispute with the Treasury, over comments he made on TV on Sunday, regarding working with the Treasury to assist industries affected by soaring energy prices.
Following his comments, the Treasury denied any involvement in talks with the business secretary and accused him of making things up in interviews.
But at the Downing Street lobby briefing this morning, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “As you would expect, ministers from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) are working across government, including with Treasury, on this important issue, the challenges that are currently facing industry in light of global gas prices, and that will continue.”
The spokesman confirmed that Treasury officials were working on the issues, and said that BEIS and the Treasury “continue to work very closely together, as the public would expect”.
Celine Wadhera11 October 2021 13:12
Boris Johnson working on government business while on holiday, Downing Street says
Downing street has said that the prime minister continues to focus on government business while on holiday.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said that he had received a call from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and was being kept up to date on work to address supply chain issues across the UK.
“The prime minister continues to be in charge as is always the case,” the spokesman said. “The prime minister has taken calls with leaders already and there will be others to follow.
“The prime minister has been kept regularly updated on the ongoing work to address the current issues around fuel and supply chains.
“He is in regular contact with ministers and No 10. He is also continuing to take calls particularly in the run-up to Cop26.”
The spokesman refused to say whether Mr Johnson was staying at the Marbella villa of environment minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, or whether he had paid for the holiday himself.
“Any declarations that need to be made will be made in the normal way, but I don’t have anything to add to that,” the spokesman said, adding that he would not confirm anything related to location for “security reasons”.
Celine Wadhera11 October 2021 12:53
Fossil fuel alternatives needed ‘at pace’ to fight energy crisis
Let’s get some expert commentary now.
James Thornton, CEO of environmental organisation ClientEarth, said about the energy crisis:
“This energy crisis is rooted in our toxic reliance on fossil fuels. Gas, like all fossil fuels, is subject to price volatility – and that’s clearly putting consumers and governments in a tight spot right now.
“What’s also clear is that gas is contributing to a climate crisis that we cannot ignore, and that we are paying for globally. So it’s vital that governments stay the course in their commitments to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and – as Cop26 approaches – don’t take short-term decisions with catastrophic long-term consequences, such as defaulting back to burning more coal as a quick fix.
“We need to see alternatives introduced at pace and this is actually a brilliant opportunity. If we put money into energy storage, into making buildings efficient, and help citizens work together to create their own energy and empower themselves – that pays dividends. It helps reduce energy consumption, it tackles climate change, it alleviates energy poverty, and it will lift this price burden off of consumers.”
Sam Hancock11 October 2021 12:34
UK promises to pay France £54m for migrant crossings ‘within weeks’
Following my post earlier (10.40am), here’s Adam Forrest with some more detail on the money Boris Johnson’s government has said it will be paying to France to help prevent small boat migrant crossings.
Attempting to smooth over a row with Emmanuel Macron’s government, Home Office minister Damian Hinds said a delay in payment was purely the result of an “administrative process”.
His comments come after French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said “not one euro has been paid” in the sum pledged in July to help bolster security on the coast.
Sam Hancock11 October 2021 12:06
Ask me anything: Supply chain expert takes questions on shortages
The Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit are being blamed for the staff shortages that have impacted the delivery of fuel in the UK.
While the UK government has acknowledged there is a shortage of HGV drivers in the UK, they have claimed the problem is worldwide and suggested the long-term solution is for the haulage industry to invest in training instead of being reliant on workers from abroad.
Dr Zulf Khan is Curriculum Lead for Operations and Supply Chain Management and Associate Professor at Coventry University’s Business School and will be able to give an expert view on that question and many others during an exclusive ‘ask me anything’ being hosted in the comments section of this page.
Dr Khan will be on hand to answer all your questions on the crisis at the event on Monday, 11 October. He will be answering live in the comments of the below article between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. All you have to do is register to submit your question.
Sam Hancock11 October 2021 11:52
UN accused of ‘downplaying antisemitism’ for too long
The United Nations (UN) has for too long “downplayed the scourge of antisemitism”, a UK diplomat has told the organisation’s Human Rights Council.
Simon Manley, the UK’s permanent representative to the UN and the World Trade Organisation, said one of the most effective ways to tackle racism and antisemitism is to “encourage states to uphold their human rights obligations”.
But, speaking on behalf of the UK and Australia, he told a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council that the countries cannot back a resolution on racism tabled by the African Group in the latest session of the Human Rights Council.
The resolution contains multiple references to the Durban Conference, a controversial antiracism meeting held in 2001, Mr Manley said.
At the time, the US and Israel walked out of the meeting because participants drafted a conference declaration that denounced Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. And the UK has repeatedly disassociated itself from the Durban Conference due to these historic concerns, and neither the UK nor Australia – along with around 40 other states – attended a recent 20th anniversary commemorative event for the conference.
The UK called for a vote on the African Group’s resolution and was joined in voting against it by a number of nations, with foreign secretary Liz Truss saying: “Discrimination and intolerance has no place in society and we encourage countries to uphold their human rights obligations.”
Sam Hancock11 October 2021 11:43