The Andrew Marr Show
Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, did not rule out Labour backing price caps in industries other than gas, and would not say whether Labour would back a green levy on gas bills. She said “it’s all very well delivering on Brexit but you have to make Brexit work” and expressed support for offering visas to address shortages, as Keir Starmer did on Marr last month.
- On price caps in other industries: “What’s important is that Kwasi Kwarteng listens to what it is that business says. There is a certain amount of briefing going on behind the scenes… The truth is we need to have a plan and we need to get on with it. But also the truth is we shouldn’t be in a situation where we wait until there is a crisis and then reach. We need to have proper planning.”
- Pushed again on price caps: “If there’s a strong case being made, we need to take it seriously… We are having meetings with industry and we are considering what the best way forward is.”
- On whether Labour would back a green levy on gas bills: “We would not be allowing for the Universal Credit cut… We need to make sure houses are properly insulated.” (She did not answer.)
- On visas for HGV drivers: “In the short term, we need to make sure we have enough people doing the jobs.”
- On visas to address social care vacancies: “I believe that that is what the government will do and I think they will not just look to Europe, they will look internationally.”
- On visas for hospitality vacancies: “We need to have a proper plan. We have been telling the government, it’s all very well delivering on Brexit but you have to make Brexit work, and there are a number of ways you need to be looking at.”
- She added: “I don’t believe that when people voted for Brexit, they voted for us to stop having any immigration at all. I just don’t believe that. I believe that what they voted for was for our politicians to be responsible for making those decisions. And they need to be making responsible decisions in a strategic way, and they’re simply not.”
Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, said he is “very resolute and clear” that the energy price cap is staying in place and ruled out a spring increase being brought forward from April to January.
Trevor Phillips on Sunday
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds confirmed that Labour is not calling for the nationalisation of energy companies.
- On nationalising energy companies: “Public ownership will always be part of our plans for some sectors but, I think specifically when you’re talking about wholesale energy costs and the prices people are facing in terms of their energy bills, it’s not the solution.”
- He added: “It would be wrong to present it as the solution to this particular crisis, which is frankly down to government policy and poor decisions being made.”
- On whether Labour would allow the the price cap to rise in light of increased wholesale prices: “No, Trevor, because that would then get rid of the point of that, which is to protect households from that volatility and therefore the government and energy companies should be managing that risk.”
- Asked why Labour is not making the case for state ownership: “It would be a distraction from the poor government choices that have been made and the fact that there is a wider problem here that goes beyond the energy sector, which is about how struggling households are having a really tough winter and there is not enough action from the government to alleviate that – and actually in many cases, like with the Universal Credit cut, it’s making things far worse.”
- Asked what he would have done in government: “I wouldn’t have stalled the nuclear programme, I would have proceeded with a very significant energy efficiency programme… we shouldn’t have had the ban on onshore wind farms, that has clearly been self-defeating.”
- On the cut to Universal Credit, which came into effect earlier this month: “The pressure that is being felt is directly on household budgets, so they shouldn’t have proceeded with that cut to Universal Credit.”
- He added: “There should be serious action in the labour market on things like fire and rehire to make sure people’s jobs are more secure and wages are better, there should be fair pay agreements, the minimum wage should rise to £10 an hour for all age groups.”
— Trevor Phillips on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) October 10, 2021
Kwasi Kwarteng also appeared on the show this morning. He told viewers that the government has “given businesses lots of support in terms of electricity pricing”.
The Business Secretary said he is “as certain as I can be” that the UK will have uninterrupted gas supply this winter. He described the price cap as the “biggest shield for consumers” and told those watching: “It will not be moved.”
Kwasi Kwarteng told Isabel Hardman and Tom Newton Dunn that the government is “not in the business of bailouts” for businesses struggling to cope with gas prices.
He also withdrew his earlier claim that he is in talks with Chancellor Rishi Sunak about support for firms, saying: “I haven’t asked him for anything. The point I was making was that we are always in conversation with the Treasury and we’re always talking about how we can support British business.”