Source: Labour List UK
Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said Labour would not nationalise the big six energy companies but added that the market “isn’t working” and that the party is “looking at the whole issue of common ownership”, though it is not a priority in the context of the cost-of-living crisis. On whether Labour’s policies, specifically the proposed windfall tax, are radical enough, Miliband said “absolutely, it’s radical” but added: “Do we need more things like that? Of course we do.”
- On whether Keir Starmer will resign if he is found to have broken the rules but is not fined: “The penalty for breaking the law is a fixed-penalty notice, and I think Keir Starmer has certainly done something that Boris Johnson hasn’t done. As far as I can see, if Boris Johnson gets multiple fines, he’s going to cling on to office. Keir Starmer did not break the rules, he was simply having some food with colleagues at a work – he was working in Durham. I don’t believe he’s going to be fined, but if he is fined, he says he’ll resign.”
- Pressed on whether Starmer will resign if he is found to have breached the rules but is not fined: “I don’t get that, I must say I don’t see how that works. The penalty for breaking the rules is a fixed-penalty notice, and he’s been very clear about this.”
- Asked if he would run for the Labour leadership if Starmer steps down: “Don’t be ridiculous, no and he’s not going. He followed the rules.”
- On the local election results: “Keir has brought us back from a terrible defeat in 2019. We made gains across the country not just Westminster and Wandsworth but Rossendale and Cumberland, right across Britain… Now, where are we at, we’re at a staging post. We’ve shown that we’ve changed from 2019, we’ve listened. What I detect in the country is that big mood for change that we saw in the Brexit referendum, that we saw in 2019, which is partly why Boris Johnson won. I don’t think people think the Tories are delivering it and can deliver it. Our job is to show that we can deliver that change and that’s the next phase of Keir’s leadership. And we’re starting to do that, on the windfall tax… on the climate investment pledge, about how we can get goods jobs as we rise to the climate emergency, but of course there’s more to do, but he has made huge progress.”
- Asked whether Labour should be further ahead in the polls: “I learnt a lesson from being leader which is that you don’t look at the polls. You look at real results that are happening and those real results show progress.”
- Pressed on whether the party should be further ahead in the polls if they are to win at the next general election: “I don’t see it that way… people were slamming doors in our faces in 2019, including in my constituency. People had lost trust in us, and so we had a massive task, and Keir had a massive task. If what you’re saying to me is we have much much more to do to win the next election and prove to the British people that we can be the change that I think they need, of course we do.”
- On Starmer’s future: “His future is sure. Honestly, I know Keir, he follows the rules, he’s going to be our leader at the election and I believe he can be the next Prime Minister of this country.”
- On criticism within Labour that the party’s ideas are not radical enough: “We’re going to give Conservative MPs, the whole House of Commons, the chance to vote on Tuesday on the windfall tax. I talked about the social emergency in this country I think it is obscene frankly that we have, as a result fo soaring energy bills, oil and gas companies making billions of pounds in our country and the government refuses to put a windfall tax on them. It is shameful, it should shame them. And we’re saying to Tory MPs, on Tuesday, in that vote in the House of Commons… you’ve got the choice now, you can vote for a windfall tax or you can explain to your constituents why you are refusing to provide them the help that they need.”
- Asked whether a windfall tax is radical enough: “It’s a really important response to this cost-of-living crisis… If you’re saying, is that a starting point, is there more, yes, let me tell you. £28bn climate investment pledge that we’ve put forward, a massive investment in the future of this country, in jobs in locomotives, in steel, in new industries like hydrogen, in insulating homes to cut bills, a ten-year plan, a ten-year mission for this country to rise to the climate emergency and invest in the future. Is that radical? Absolutely, it’s radical. Do we need more things like that? Of course we do.”
- On his views on nationalisation: “We’re looking at the whole issue of common ownership. If you’re saying to me though is the priority now to nationalise the supply companies, I agree with Keir Starmer, it isn’t the priority now. The priority now is deal with the cost-of-living crisis, invest in the future of this country. Have a green energy sprint on onshore wind, on solar, on energy efficiency to cut bills. I think people are asking us, we’re facing this emergency… how are you going to respond? And we’ve a government that refuses to make the fair choices that we need, like on the windfall tax, like on non-doms. Labour will make the fair choices and have a plan for growth to get the wage growth we need for this country.”
- Asked if nationalisation is back on the table: “We’re not going to nationalise the big six… I think the costs of it are too big, it’s not what we’re looking at. What we are looking at is – across the piste you see it’s not just the supply companies, you’ve got generation, we’ve got the grid, we’ve got the transmission of energy and electricity and taking a step back, this is a market that isn’t working.”
- Asked why his stance on nationalisation has changed: “Common ownership can definitely have a role in relation to energy and a range of other things, and that’s what we’re looking at. But what I’m saying to you is, at this moment, what matters is tackling the cost-of-living crisis and showing the investment we’ll make in the future to get the growth we need as a county and tackle the climate emergency.”
- On whether Labour in government would reverse the National Insurance increase: “We’ll set out our tax plans at the election. The government shouldn’t have had the National Insurance rise… it goes to this question of priorities and choices… And I think what you see is two things, this government won’t make the fair choices this country needs and they haven’t got the plan for growth – they’re not willing to invest.”
- Pressed on the need to make Labour’s tax plans clear: “Governments come out with their tax and spending plans right near an election when you know what the fiscal circumstances are going to be… You get a clear sense of where Labour stands, which is for tax fairness. Tax fairness is the issue, so we would be saying we’re going to end the non-doms loophole which is the wrong thing to do in this country. We would be having a windfall tax if we were in government now on the big oil and gas companies. We wouldn’t have gone ahead with the national insurance rise because we don’t it’s fair.”
- On the Northern Ireland agreement: “I would not be tearing up an agreement I signed. I would be negotiating. I’m afraid it just proves once again that Boris Johnson is not a serious person about the real issues this country faces. He signed the agreement, he said it was a triumph, he said it was triumph for the people of Northern Ireland. He refuses to negotiate on things like a veterinary agreement… power-sharing collapsed two-and-a-half months ago in Northern Ireland – he’s finally getting around actually to going to Northern Ireland. What I hope he doesn’t do is try and use Northern Ireland as a political weapon because that would be absolutely the wrong thing to do. What he needs to do is engage seriously – engage seriously with the people of Northern Ireland and with Europe and find a solution to these issues, not go round making threats. A trade war at this moment of all moments would be the worst thing.”
On the Northern Ireland agreement, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng stressed that the government “don’t want to tear up the deal” but added that there protocol “isn’t working” and there is a “problem” with it regarding stability in Northern Ireland.
Asked whether the government will override parts of the deal, Kwarteng said that there is an article within the protocol that allows either party to act unilaterally and that such action is “baked into the agreement”. He reiterated that “we have to prioritise political stability in Northern Ireland”, adding that if the government thinks the protocol is working against that “we have to look at it”.
On concerns expressed about the protocol before the deal was signed, Kwarteng said the government “quite rightly believed” the EU and other parties would act with “goodwill” and “some degree of common sense” in the operation of the protocol, adding: “When the facts change, it’s quite legitimate to look at what’s happening and adapt your policy.”
On the possibility of a trade war, Kwarteng said: “I don’t think there’s going to be a trade war.” He said talk of a trade was “irresponsible” and that it would be “self-defeating” to enter into one.
Pressed on whether he was willing to break international law, he said his “primary responsibility” was ensuring political stability in Northern Ireland and added that there are “lots of different views from experts that contradict each other” on the legal issue.
Sophy Ridge on Sunday
Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband described the government’s opposition to a windfall tax as “frankly obscene” and emphasised that millions of people in the UK are having “sleepless nights about how they’re going to afford their bills”. On the estimated costs of Labour’s Green New Deal, Miliband said “the prudent choice, the sensible economic choice, the sensible fiscal choice, as well as the ethical choice, is to invest in tackling the climate emergency” and stressed that the “answer to the climate crisis… is also the answer to the cost-of-living crisis”.
- On Labour’s planned amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for a windfall tax: “We face a social emergency in this country, Sophy. Seven million people we know are skipping meals because they can’t afford their bills. Energy bills are rocketing upwards and at the same time, as a direct result of that, we’ve got oil and gas companies making billions of pounds, literally record profits. Of course the right thing to do is to levy a windfall tax on those oil and gas companies, so we can provide proper help to families.”
- On the government’s opposition to a windfall tax: “I think it is frankly obscene that the government is refusing to do this. I listened to your Kwasi Kwarteng interview – I’m not interested in their internal machinations about this, because every day that goes by when they refuse to do the right thing, is another day when millions of people in this country have sleepless nights about how they’re going to afford their bills. My message to the Chancellor is this: you’re going to do a windfall tax – I believe he is going to do a windfall tax, because frankly it’s an unanswerable case – get on with it and do it and bring real help to families.”
- On whether environmental measure such as heat pumps are too expensive for households: “The answer to the climate crisis we face is also the answer to the cost-of-living crisis we face. Labour’s got a plan to insulate 19 million homes over the next ten years, two million in the coming year, that would cut bills, cut carbon emissions and create jobs. If you take the green energy sprint which we need and the government is not doing – onshore wind, solar are now our cheapest forms of power. We should be driving ahead with those things… The old debate was, shall we go green, it’ll be more expensive. Actually, the new reality is going green is now the cheaper option, and I’m afraid the government’s half-hearted approach to these climate issues is not just bad for the climate – and it’s terrible for the climate – it’s also bad when it comes to affordability and the cost-of-living crisis, as well as energy security, because we can cut our gas imports too if actually we go on this green sprint.”
- On how Labour would fund its Green New Deal: “We think, Sophy, that it is right to borrow to invest that £28bn, and let me explain why. Because the biggest challenge and the most imprudent thing we could do is fail to invest in tackling the climate crisis because we will store up massive costs for the future… The prudent choice, the sensible economic choice, the sensible fiscal choice, as well as the ethical choice, is to invest in tackling the climate emergency.”
- On whether Labour should be more upfront about its borrowing plans and not only focused on windfall tax: “I’m extremely happy to talk about both. Let me make this point to you, the reason why this matters is that we have a short-term plan and a long-term plan. And the short-term plan is really important… I make no apologies for calling and demanding the government act on the windfall tax, because it is quite wrong that they’re not doing so.”
- On the potential impact of the war in Ukraine on energy bills: “I am concerned about it. And what this illustrates is that if we are subject to fossil fuels, if we are reliant on fossil fuels, then we are basically at the mercy of global events… The best way for us to have energy security – and energy security is incredibly important – is frankly to get off fossil fuels, because the things about onshore wind, offshore wind, nuclear power, solar energy, all of those things, is they are homegrown sources of power which aren’t reliant on what is happening globally.”
- Asked whether he regrets voting against military action in Syria: “No, I don’t… There was no proper plan for how we would be using British troops and where our intervention would go And we made a vow after Iraq which was if we committed British troops, we would do so clear about our objectives with a clear sense of a plan and a clear sense that that plan would be successful… Of course what has happened in Syria is an appalling tragedy but the idea that us getting involved in another war in the Middle East would have stopped it happening, I just don’t buy I’m afraid.”
- Pressed on whether British involvement would have sent a message on chemical weapons use: “I think we should learn some lessons from our past on this, because when terrible things happen around the world, yes we have a responsibility to act in concert with our allies and we are acting in relation to Ukraine… but when we commit British troops, we don’t just do so to send a message. We are putting the young men and women of our country in harm’s way. And I think that leaders have a deep responsibility to know that they are doing so on the basis that we have a chance of it succeeding, we have a clear plan and we know where the intervention is going to go.”
- On Sadiq Khan’s commission and whether he would like to see cannabis legalised: “That isn’t Labour’s position no. What we’ve said – look we welcome Sadiq looking at these issues because this debate carries on and should carry on.”
- Pressed on whether he is personally in favour of legalisation: “I’ve said in the past that this is something that needs to be looked at. I think you probably know that. But Labour’s shadow cabinet position, which is a position that I support as a member of the shadow cabinet, is to say that we’re not yet convinced that the case for moving on decriminalisation, but obviously we will look at what Lord Faulkner’s commission has to say.”
- On Starmer: “I think what Keir is doing – we had a terrible defeat in 2019 – he has done a remarkable job I think in bringing the party back from the brink, from what happened in 2019, putting us back on the pitch… I think there is a big mood for change in this country, not just the cost-of-living crisis – this goes back much further to Brexit, to the financial crisis, people feel that the country’s not working for them… Our job is to show that we can bring that change. And that is a work in progress, of course it is… and what you’re going to see, and what I know Keir is determined to do, is show that burning passion and that set of proposals to change our country to bring the change that I think people are crying out for.”
On Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s views on a windfall tax, Kwasi Kwarteng said it would be “foolish” to rule anything out four months before the Budget, although he noted that his own opposition to the idea had not changed.