3 min read
Boris Johnson said the energy crisis is short term and the government is taking direct steps to make sure there is CO2 available in the country.
Speaking to the BBC during a visit to New York for the UN General Assembly the Prime Minister was asked if the government would subsidise the carbon dioxide market, which is used in food production.
“We will do what is necessary,” he said, and suggested plans to help the sector would be announced later today.
“It is an interim period,” he suggested more generally on the spike on energy bills due to rising global gas prices.
“I think people should understand the short-term nature of this, the causes of it. It’s caused by the global economy coming back to life and we’re going to address the various supply chain problems and spikes in every way that we can. We are talking to the energy companies and doing what we can to keep prices low.”
On Tuesday afternoon news broke that the government had struck a deal to re-open two key fertiliser plants in order to resume Co2 production.
PoliticsHome reported on Friday that the country was facing a shortage of CO2 after two fertiliser factories closed at Teesside and Cheshire stopped producing it due to the spiralling cost of gas. CO2 is a by-product of the fertiliser process, and is used in the production of beer and fizzy drinks, and is also vital in meat processing.
A lack of CO2 could lead to a shortage of food and drinks on supermarket shelves, industry experts have warned.
Johnson said “the market across the world” is going to rectify the problems in energy and showed it was right to invest in wind and nuclear, long term.
Johnson was also challenged on the government’s decision to scrap the £20 uplift to Universal Credit against a backdrop of food shortages, and larger energy bills facing families this winter and rising inflation.
Asked if he understood that families are feeling the financial strain, he said: “Yes and that’s why we’ve raised the living wage by the record amount and that’s why we’re doing everything we can to help people as we’ve done throughout this pandemic.”
He said the UK has the fastest growth rate in the G7 and wages are rising sustainably for the first time in decades, and there would not be a shortage of food as the government would ensure there are good supply chains.
Ruling out a U-turn on the decision to remove the Universal Credit uplift, he said: “We think the best thing we can do is help people in high wage, high skilled jobs. Jobs are being created and wages are rising. Rather than raising people’s taxes to put more money into benefits we want to see companies paying their workers more.”
On the long-standing hope within government that the UK will strike a post-Brexit free trade deal with the US during Johnson’s first term, he said: “We’re going to go as fast as we can.”
Earlier in the day the Prime Minister’s deputy official spokesperson told journalists in Westminster that there was no timetable for the deal but it is still a priority.
“Our priority is to get a deal that works for the UK rather than a quick deal. I’m not going to get into timelines,” he said.
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