Kwasi Kwarteng has come under fire after claiming France ‘scared investors’ when asked why the French have much lower energy price hikes.
The Tory Energy Secretary was asked by Trevor Phillips on Sky News why France’s energy cost rise is four per cent, whilst the UK faces a 54 per cent increase.
“What have the French got that we don’t have, except maybe a better government?,” Phillips asked.
Kwarteng replied: “The French were exposed to higher prices, they’ve also managed to scare a lot of people who were trying to invest in France. We’ve got the highest inward investment in any country in Europe.
“That’s relevant to this whole equation that we’re securing jobs, hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’ve got a very, very low unemployment rate.
“But you’re right to say that the cost of living is an issue.”
Reactions and WATCH
Kwarteng’s interview has prompted hundreds of reactions, with actor Omid Djalili saying it is “evidence” that gas prices have risen “because of industrial-scale gas lighting”.
“I’m sure those having to choose between heating and eating will be pleased that we’re keeping prices high so energy companies still like us,” actor David Schneider added.
One Twitter user seemed to agree: “So when you’re worried about turning the heating on or choosing to eat just don’t be because apparently we have a big companies investing in us. Yep that’ll help!”
Another pointed out that the value of foreign direct investment into the UK was £36 billion in 2019, down from £66 billion in 2018 and less than the decade-long average of £54 billion. A third user even used a Simpsons reference to mock Kwarteng’s TV intervention. “Oh, won’t somebody please think of the investors?” a Simpsons scene was captioned.
Kwarteng said in 2021 that government isn’t ‘in business of bailouts’ of energy firms
In October last year, a senior Tory minister insisted Kwasi Kwarteng was not “telling porkies” when he promised support for UK businesses throughout the fuel crisis.
Speaking to Sky News, Hinds was asked if Kwarteng has been “telling porkies” – to which he replied “no, of course not”.
But, in the same month, Kwarteng stated that the government is “not in the business of bailouts”.
The minister seemed to maintain his position of refusing to help energy firms since September, despite more firms risking going bust because of soaring costs.
Meanwhile, this week MPs voted down an amendment that will hand bankers a multi-billion pound tax cut according to Labour estimates, in a move described as “punching down” by one MP.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak was urged to cancel planned tax cuts for banks and use the cash to ease the blow of the cost-of-living crisis on working people.
An amendment to the Finance Bill was debated in the House of Commons that would halt a planned cut from 8 to 3 per cent in the surcharge levied on banking profits over £25 million from next year.
Labour said the estimated £1 billion annual cost of the reduction could be used to fund home improvements for hundreds of thousands of families to soften the blow of energy bill rises expected to average around £700 from April.
Related: Kwarteng says he ‘feels no shame’ over Paterson… hours before U-turn