Boris Johnson news live: Gas prices to be high ‘for some time’

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Angela Rayner condemns Dominic Raab over rising gas prices at PMQs

The cost of gas could remain high for some time, a minister has admitted, despite the prime minister describing the energy crisis as “temporary”.

A large spike in wholesale gas prices has led to the closure of four energy providers in recent days and to the regulator Ofgem warning that others will also soon go bust. If this happens, millions of people could be affected.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs on Wednesday that “we have to prepare for longer-term high prices”.

Meanwhile, the deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner blamed the government at PMQs for the problems with gas supply. “Their failures paved the way for this crisis that will hit families and businesses. As usual, it’ll be the British people that will have to pay the price,” she said.

In response, the deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said the government would maintain supply this year, citing the support it was giving “two critical CO2 plants” to help the food and drink sector.

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Johnson plays down fears of panic-buying

Boris Johnson has dismissed suggestions that rising gas prices could lead to panic-buying in supermarkets.

The Prime Minister said: “I don’t think that will happen. I think we’ve got very good supply chains, as I’ve been saying over the last few days, and what we’re seeing is the growing pains of a global economy recovering rapidly from Covid.”

Asked whether taxpayer bailouts should be going to a firm owned by a US millionaire, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “This is an exceptional short-term arrangement given what we have seen over the course over the last week or so in terms of the issues the lack of CO2 is causing to the industry.

“It is a unique circumstance where we have seen other companies that provide the same product be in maintenance, so we will take three weeks to find a market solution.”

Pressed on why the Government had not disclosed the exact amount of financial support promised to the fertiliser manufacturer, the spokesman said: “These matters are commercially sensitive. We will obviously set out any details as we always do under transparency laws.”

On why CF Fertilisers was only restarting operations at one of its two closed plants, the official said: “We believe the Billingham plant will provide enough CO2 to supply our needs.

“My understanding is workers were on site and start-up has commenced, and we would expect it to take 48 hours to produce CO2 for the market.”

Downing Street said it had stepped in to assist CF Fertilisers due to the “unique situation” surrounding CO2 production.

Jane Dalton22 September 2021 13:48

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Donnez-moi un break, PM tells Macron

Boris Johnson has told French president Emmanuel Macron to “donnez moi un break” and get over his anger about the new military pact forged between the UK, US and Australia.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, the Prime Minister said: “I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about this and donnez moi un break.

“Because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security. It’s three very like-minded allies standing shoulder to shoulder creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology.

“It’s not exclusive. It’s not trying to shoulder anybody out. It’s not adversarial towards China, for instance.”

Jane Dalton22 September 2021 13:40

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Marcus Rashford to be studied by GCSE media studies pupils

GCSE media studies pupils will learn about footballer Marcus Rashford’s use of social media after his influential campaigning on child poverty and racism in sport. The Manchester United and England star has been added to the course by exam board AQA, writes Joe Middleton:

Jane Dalton22 September 2021 13:32

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UK in ‘unprecedented territory’, says Ofgem boss

The energy regulator has rejected the government’s previous claim that the energy crisis will be a “short-term problem”.

Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s chief executive, said the UK was in “unprecedented territory” .

“It’s very, very hard to predict how long that will last,” he added.

Rory Sullivan22 September 2021 13:03

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Government preparing for ‘longer-term’ high energy prices, admits Kwarteng

The government is preparing for energy costs to remain high for some time, despite earlier calling the problem “temporary”.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs on Wednesday that “we have to prepare for longer-term high prices”.

In August, wholesale gas prices leaped by 70 per cent due to a combination of factors, including greater global demand.

Rory Sullivan22 September 2021 12:45

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Government must support high-risk workers, says Labour

Ministers must support people at work who are at high risk from coronavirus, the shadow secretary for women and equalities has said.

Anneliese Dodds noted that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on black, Asian and ethnic minorities workers.

“They are more likely to be trapped in low-paid, precarious work, overlooked in decisions on workplace protections and struggling to self-isolate due to risk of financial loss.

“So why is the government still refusing to require employers to report occupational Covid infections and to publish their risk assessments to keep these workers safe?”

In response, work and pensions minister Guy Opperman told the Commons that people should get their vaccine booster.

Rory Sullivan22 September 2021 12:40

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More energy firms likely to go bust, warns regulator

More energy providers are likely to go into administration, the head of Ofgem has warned.

Jonathan Brearley, who runs the energy regulator, declined to give an estimate on numbers of firms that might go bust but said: “We do expect more [suppliers] not to be able to face the circumstances we’re in.”

“We do expect a large number of customers to be affected, we’ve already seen hundreds of thousands of customers affected, that may well go well above that,” he added.

Rory Sullivan22 September 2021 12:31

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‘Warm words don’t warm homes’, warns SNP politician

The government’s warm words on the energy crisis will not “warm homes”, an SNP politician has warned.

Kirsten Oswald’s comments come after ministers said they would not offer vulnerable households extra support to help cover rising energy costs.

She said that this would leave people having to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes this winter.

“You can’t level up by making people poorer,” she added.

Rory Sullivan22 September 2021 12:21

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Rayner takes aim at Raab’s holiday in Crete

Angela Rayner has taken aim at Dominic Raab’s expensive holiday in Crete earlier this summer, saying it would take a worker on minimum wage 50 days to afford a one night stay there.

Or “even more if the sea was open”, she quipped, referring to the denial used by the then foreign secretary, who was accused of paddleboarding as the Taliban approached Kabul.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner

(Reuters TV)

Rory Sullivan22 September 2021 12:09

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Labour criticises PM over lack of movement on US free trade deal

Angela Rayner sent her “commiserations” to the prime minister for making no progress on securing a free trade deal with the US.

“Can I begin by offering my commiserations to the prime minister after he flew away to the US and made absolutely zero progress on the trade deal that he promised us. And can I ask the deputy prime minister does the deputy prime minister still believe that British workers are among the worst idlers in the world?” she said.

In response, deputy prime minister Mr Raab claimed Boris Johnson’s trip to the US had been a success.

Rory Sullivan22 September 2021 12:07

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