Prime Minister Boris Johnson: The next few months will be tough but I’m confident Britain’s rebound will be golden
The coming months are going to be tough, maybe very tough. Our energy bills are going to be exorbitant. For many of us, the cost of heating our homes is already daunting.
And yet, I’ve never been so certain that we’ll come out of this well – and that Britain will emerge stronger and more prosperous on the other side.
Let’s remember who caused this global spike in the cost of energy and what is at stake.
Yes, we were already seeing supply chain pressures last year, caused by the aftershocks of Covid, and that was causing some global prices to rise.
But at the end of last year, we were in the process of fixing it. The world was looking for truckers. Container ships were advancing. We were sourcing silicon chips.
What no one had negotiated was Vladimir Putin’s decision – and it was his only decision – to launch a vicious and irrational attack on February 24 against an innocent European country.
It was Putin’s barbaric invasion that spooked the energy markets.
It is Putin’s war that is costing British consumers dearly. That’s why your energy bill doubles. I’m afraid Putin knows that. He likes that. And he wants us to buckle up.
He believes indulgent European politicians won’t have the stomach for the fight – that this coming winter we’ll throw in the towel, lift sanctions and beg for Russian oil and gas.
He thinks we will tire of supporting Ukraine and quietly start encouraging Ukrainians to make a deal, however nauseous, with the tyrant in the Kremlin.
It would be sheer madness. In this brutal showdown, the Ukrainian people can and will win. And Britain too.
With each passing month, Putin’s position weakens. His ability to intimidate and blackmail diminishes. And Britain’s position will grow stronger.
We must and we will help people through the crisis. Huge amounts of taxpayers’ money are already committed to helping people pay their bills. This money is flowing now – and will continue to flow in the months to come.
Another chunk of the £650 is already set to go to the eight million most vulnerable households this fall. There is an additional £300 for pensioners in November, £150 for the disabled and £400 for all energy bill payers.
Next month – regardless of my successor – the government will announce another huge financial support package. It is worth remembering why we are able to make these payments.
We have the money to support families across the country because we have already proven the pessimists wrong.
I remember sitting in the Cabinet Room for an economic briefing in 2020 as the waves of the pandemic swept across the world and we saw the biggest drop in output for 300 years. They told me unemployment in the UK would reach 14%.
They said millions would be thrown into the economic scrapyard – with all the resulting costs to the Exchequer.
They were wrong. After becoming the first country in the world to approve an effective vaccine, we staged Europe’s fastest vaccine rollout, fastest Covid exit. As a result, we had the fastest growth in the G7 last year and instead of mass unemployment, we have around 640,000 MORE people in wage employment than before the pandemic began.
Instead of being at 14 percent, unemployment is at 3.8 percent, almost the lowest in almost 50 years. It gives us the fundamental economic strength to weather this crisis – as the Russian economy continues to crumble.
We are ending our dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. In June, for the first time in decades, we imported no fuel from Russia. The UK has already increased its domestic gas production – 26% more this year than last.
With each new offshore wind farm we build, with each new nuclear project we approve, we strengthen our strategic position. We are becoming less vulnerable to the vagaries of the world gas price and less vulnerable to pressure from Putin.
It was this government that reversed decades of apathy and gave the green light to new nuclear power plants.
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We will build a new reactor every year and have a colossal 50 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, almost half of our total electricity consumption.
This UK energy security strategy is only part of a larger program to make the economy more productive and competitive.
In just three years, we have increased gigabit broadband coverage from 7% of homes to 70%. We are strengthening the economic nerve of the country with the biggest investment in rail – three new high-speed lines – for a century.
We have invested heavily in skills, so that people can improve their skills throughout their lives.
We have taken decisive steps to make it the best place in the world to invest and start a business. We are repealing dozens of binding EU laws, including Solvency 2 and MiFID, which have had an unnecessary deterrent effect on investment.
We’re creating eight new freeports, cutting investment taxes and extending our lead as a science superpower – with £22bn of investment in science and a new advanced research agency to solve the big problems of our time , from dementia to zero carbon aviation .
All of this is paying off in terms of jobs and growth. In the first quarter of this year, the UK attracted more venture capital investment in technology than China.
We have more technology investment than France, Germany and Israel combined and we produce a new billion-pound ‘unicorn’ company roughly every two weeks.
These new ideas are flourishing not just in the golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London, but across the UK as we drive our upgrading agenda forward.
We have laid the foundation for long-term gains in prosperity and productivity. We know we will rebound from the energy cost crisis as we rapidly develop our own supplies in the UK.
This is why we will succeed and why we cannot back down now.
If Putin is allowed to get away with his murder and mayhem, and change the borders of Europe by force, then he will simply start over, somewhere else on the periphery of the former Soviet Union.
Other countries will learn the lesson that violence and aggression can pay off and this will usher in a new cycle of political and economic instability.
This is why we must continue to support the Ukrainians – and their military successes continue to be remarkable. Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shown that his country is fundamentally invincible.
Now is the time for the West to double down on support, not waver.
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We have more than enough resilience to weather the difficult months ahead. We have already shown it.
And we have made long-term decisions – including on home energy supply – to ensure that our rebound can and should be remarkable and that our future will be golden.