Sunday shows: Reeves backs fuel duty cut, windfall tax, energy bills VAT cut

Sunday Morning

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said Labour would support a fuel duty cut, introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, cut VAT on energy bills, scrap the National Insurance hike, and aim to be less reliant on imported oil and gas. She refused to support new licenses for drilling in the North Sea, saying: “I don’t think the answer to a fossil fuel crisis is more fossil fuels.” She described Boris Johnson comparing the Ukrainian fight to Brexit as “shameless”.

  • On a fuel duty cut: “We would definitely support the government if that is what they choose to do this week. But even 5p off fuel duty is only going to be £2 off filling your car up with petrol. I don’t think that really cuts it in terms of dealing with the cost-of-living crisis.”
  • On energy bills: “What is needed is a windfall tax on the big profits being made by the North Sea oil and gas companies right now, and using that money to take money off people’s gas and electricity bills,  because everybody pays gas and electricity bills.”
  • On taxes: “And also, not going ahead with these National Insurance contributions. We’re the only G7 economy that’s increasing taxes, right in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. When prices are going up, deliberately taking money out of people’s purses and wallets? That’s the wrong thing to do. We oppose that.”
  • On Boris Johnson’s Saudi Arabia trip: “I don’t think it is right to go cap in hand from one dictator to another. It didn’t even yield any results… And also, the Prime Minister said he would talk to the Saudis about their human rights record. On the very day that the Prime Minister was in Saudi Arabia, more people were executed and more have been executed since.”
  • She added: “We’ve got to be less reliant on imported oil and gas. We’ve got to be more self-reliant and not reliant on dictators. The PM didn’t even succeed this week. Instead it just shows how impotent we are and how essential it is for a proper plan for boosting energy security at home.”
  • Asked whether Labour would not buy oil from Saudi Arabia: “Of course we would be buying oil from Saudi Arabia, but we’ve got to wean ourselves off.”
  • On net zero: “Getting to net zero is the mission of our generation. We’ve got to do more to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which is why investment in homegrown electricity is so important.”
  • On whether Labour would support new licenses for drilling in the North Sea: “I don’t think the answer to a fossil fuel crisis is more fossil fuels. There are better things government could be doing, like ending the moratorium on onshore wind, like getting on with investment in new nuclear.”
  • When it was pointed out that those measures would be for the long-term: “More [North Sea] exploration is also for the long-term.”
  • On Rishi Sunak: “If the Chancellor wants to show he’s a low-tax Chancellor, he should do what Labour says this week: that is taking VAT off gas and electricity bills, cancelling the National Insurance increase.”
  • On Boris Johnson comparing the Ukrainian fight to Brexit: “Utterly distasteful. Shameless. The people of Ukraine who are fighting for their lives – to in any way draw a parallel to voting to leave the EU, it is shameless and the Prime Minister should withdraw those comments.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said “government can’t solve every problem” but promised to “stand by” people amid the cost-of-living crisis.

  • On Boris Johnson comparing the Ukrainian fight to Brexit: “I don’t think the Prime Minister was making a direct comparison between these two things. Clearly, they’re not directly analogous and that’s not what he was saying.”
  • Pressed on it: “He was making some general observations about people’s desires for freedom.”
  • On spending: “[People] get that we’re spending a lot… £150bn more by the end of this parliament from the beginning… What people want to see now is that we’re getting value for that money. That we’re spending it well.”
  • On the cost-of-living crisis: “The steps we’ve taken to sanction Russia are not cost-free for us here at home. I want to be honest with people: it’s not going to be easy. I wish the government could solve absolutely every problem… but I can’t do that. What I will say is I will stand by them in the way I have done over the past couple of years.”
  • On the energy price crisis: “We acted to do things in a slightly more targeted way. Providing £150 to people in April, that obviously matters more to those on lower incomes with smaller fuel bills.”
  • Asked whether he expects the number in fuel poverty to rise: “I think the things we’re putting in place will make a difference.” He highlighted raising the national living wage and the Universal Credit taper rate cut.
  • On a fuel duty 5p cut: “I’m not able to comment on tax policy… But we’re the party that has frozen fuel duty for over a decade.”
  • On tax cuts: “Going forward, my priority is to cut tax and put money back in people’s pockets… The direction of travel over the rest of this parliament is that.”
  • On the Saudi Arabia trip: “He raised human rights abuses while he was there… but it’s also right that we have constructive dialogue with countries around the world.”
  • On P&O: “What we’re seeing is appalling. The way they’ve treated their workers is awful, it’s wrong. Across government we’re examine not just those actions… but also our own relationship with the company.”
  • On Jacob Rees-Mogg calling ‘partygate’ “disproportionate fluff”: “People were angry and had the right to be angry about what was happening. It damaged trust.”

Martin Lewis warned that ten million could be forced into fuel poverty. “As the Money Saving Expert… I am virtually out of tools to help people now. It’s not something money management can fix.” He concluded: “We need political intervention.”

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Rachel Reeves criticised the National Insurance hike, while calling on Rishi Sunak to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies and cut VAT on energy bills.

  • On the Spring Statement: “Wednesday is an historic moment for the Chancellor to show whether he really understands the challenges that people are facing at the moment… We need more than warm words from the Chancellor. We need the Chancellor to do the things that will relieve that pressure on the cost of living.”
  • On the planned increase in National Insurance contributions: “The Chancellor and Prime Minister said the National Insurance contribution rise was to fix the social care problem, but we now know that there’s going to be no new money for social care in this parliament. Then they said it was to reduce NHS waiting times. But there’s no credible plan to do that in this parliament. And all the while, we know that the government are wasting billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money… You can’t help wondering whether this tax rise is to pay for a black hole because of this government’s waste and mismanagement.”
  • She added: “The problem with National Insurance is that it is a tax on work… Some of the richest people in our country, who earn an income through dealing in stocks and shares or a portfolio buying select properties – they won’t pay a penny more in tax with the National Insurance rise.”
  • On Rishi Sunak: “We’re going to have a Chancellor who keeps giving interview and speeches saying that he’s a low-tax Chancellor – well, prove it on Wednesday. Reverse this National Insurance contributions rise and cut VAT on domestic gas and electricity bills to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.”
  • On a fuel duty cut: “Even a 5p reduction in fuel duty will only reduce filling up the car with petrol by £2, so I don’t think that really rises to the scale of the challenge that we face at the moment.”
  • On the potential for Labour’s proposed windfall tax on oil and gas companies to impact investment in industry: “With the big profits they are making at the moment, they’re not channelling that into new investment. Instead, they are using that money to further push up their share prices, and we’ve also seen big bonuses for the executives at these companies.”
  • On Boris Johnson’s comment comparing the struggle of Ukrainians fighting Russia to Brits voting for Brexit: “It is utterly distasteful and insulting to compare the fight for freedom and the aggression of the Russian state to the decision to leave the European Union. It is insulting to the Ukrainian people who are fighting for their very freedom and their very lives, and it’s insulting to the British people as well. And if the Prime Minister didn’t mean that analogy, he shouldn’t have made it, and he should take back those words and apologise to the Ukrainian people and the British people.”
  • On Johnson questioning whether Labour would stand up to Vladimir Putin’s blackmail: “This was a Prime Minister who, on the eve of the invasion of Ukraine, was wining and dining people with close links to Putin’s regime. This is a Prime Minister who overruled the security service in giving a peerage to now Lord Lebedev of Siberia. So I take no lectures from this Prime Minister. He lacks a seriousness and gravity for the moment, and I would ask the Prime Minister to apologise for his words that are deeply insulting to the people of Ukraine and absolutely ridiculous about the Labour Party.”

Rishi Sunak defended the Prime Minister’s comment comparing the Ukraine fight to Brexit, saying: “I certainly don’t think those two situations are directly analogous, and I don’t think [the Prime Minister] does either.”

The Chancellor rejected Labour’s proposal of cutting VAT on energy bills, describing it as the “opposite of targeted”, and said the increase in National Insurance contributions was necessary to address the NHS backlog.

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