Boris Johnson today stopped ruling out a windfall on energy giants, despite insisting he “don’t like” the idea.
The prime minister left the door open for a one-time levy after Rishi Sunak put the prospect “on the table” and instructed officials to work on the details.
Ministers had previously rejected calls for a windfall tax to help alleviate the cost of living crisis, warning that it could hurt investment in energy infrastructure.
But the chancellor would be alarmed that industry giants have done little or nothing to increase spending despite reaping huge profits.
Senior Tory MP Robert Halfon backed the move this morning, saying oil companies had “conned” motorists by not cutting pump prices as global costs fell.
He denied that the policy would be “unconservative” – pointing out that Margaret Thatcher did it in “time of need”.
Boris Johnson left the door open for a one-time charge after Rishi Sunak put the prospect ‘on the table’ and instructed officials to work on the details
The Bank of England predicts inflation will rise above 10 percent and the economy will turn this year
It follows a confession by BP chief executive Bernard Looney, who said his company’s investment plans would not be affected by a windfall.
In an interview with LBC, the prime minister said that while he still dislikes such taxes because of the impact on investment, it is something that should be considered.
Pressed by Mr. Looney’s comments, Mr. Johnson said, “Well, you know, then we’ll have to look into it.”
But he added: ‘The downside of such taxes is that they discourage investment in the very things they need to invest in: new technology, new energy supply.
‘I do not like them. I didn’t think they were the right thing. I don’t think they are the right way forward. I want those companies to make big, big investments.’
Ministers were stunned by comments from BP chief Bernard Looney, who said his company’s investment plans would not be affected by a windfall.
Mr Looney also described his business as an ‘ATM’.
The idea of a tax grab would be “back on the table” to help families with the cost of living crisis without pushing government borrowing even further.
An insider said a one-time tax is “no-brainer if the top executives say they have no problem with it.”
Mr. Halfon labeled oil company bosses “the new oligarchs” when he called on the government to hit them with a windfall.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the chairman of the Education Select Committee said the government had done ‘a fair bit’ to tackle the cost of living crisis, but families were still struggling with food and energy bills.
Mr Halfon said: ‘I really think the government should consider a windfall tax.
“Oil companies or oil bosses are the new oligarchs – one of them earns a salary of over £76million and gets a £4.5million bonus.”
Pressured by the oligarch’s claim, the Harlow MP pointed out “the way oil companies are cheating motorists at the pump by not cutting the price quickly when the price of oil falls internationally.”
Arguing that windfall taxes were not ‘unconservative’, Mr Halfon argued: ‘Margaret Thatcher did it, David Cameron did it, conservative governments have imposed a windfall tax on oil companies in times of need.’
Mr Johnson will urge cabinet members to ‘bring to life the benefits of the Queen’s speech’ during a getaway in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
Downing Street said ministers will discuss how the new legislation will boost the economy, improve living standards and increase opportunities across the country.
Mr Johnson suggested the government will provide more aid to struggling families in July.
Prime Minister left the door open for a one-time levy after Rishi Sunak put the prospect ‘on the table’ and instructed officials to work on the details
Downing Street has been forced to deny that ministers are preparing an emergency budget to deal with the cost of living crisis after the prime minister suggested in the debate over the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday that there would be more aid in the coming days.
However, in his LBC interview, Mr Johnson indicated that there would be additional support in the summer rather than waiting for the budget to come into effect in the fall.
“There’s more to come. July and so on,” he said.
“But what we will do is use all the ingenuity and compassion we have and the fiscal firepower we have as a result of the strong economic growth we had as a result of the pandemic.
‘Our growth will return very strongly in the coming years.’
His comments follow the first meeting this week of the government’s cost-of-living committee, where he instructed ministers to come up with proposals to ease pressure on family budgets.
Source: New feed