The clearest signal yet that a windfall tax could be imposed on energy companies came from a Treasury minister who said the UK government “cannot rule out” such a move.
Amid reports that No 10 is resisting Rishi Sunak’s plans to introduce a levy, Tory figures have weighed in for and against.
In highly unusual public displays of dissent, a number of cabinet ministers have spoken out against the policy, in some cases expressing their hostility in stark ideological terms.
Sajid Javid The health secretary and former investment banker has made his opposition to the idea clear, saying his hostility is motivated by his fundamental political beliefs. “Instinctively, I don’t like it. I just think we have to be very careful,’ he told the Welsh Tory conference.
Liz Truss The Foreign Secretary and torchbearer for the Tory right admitted the UK was in a ‘very, very difficult economic situation’ but said the Treasury should cut taxes rather than impose a levy exceptional to energy companies. “The problem with a windfall tax is that it’s hard to attract future investment to our country, so there’s a cost to imposing a tax like that,” she said. declared. told Sky News.
Kwasi Kwarteng The business secretary firmly rejected the idea earlier this month, days after it was floated by the chancellor. Asked if he supported Sunak’s idea, he told Sky News: “I’ve never been a fan of windfall taxes. I’ve been very clear on that publicly, I think it discourages investment and the reason we want to have investment is because it creates jobs, it creates wealth and it also gives us energy security.
Brandon Lewis The Northern Ireland secretary said a windfall tax “sounds attractive but doesn’t work”. He said: “It’s retarding investment both in this sector and absolutely risk in others,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
Suella Braverman The Attorney General relied on her ideological worldview when she criticized the idea of a swab in a interview with curator Home. “I don’t think a windfall tax would be a good idea, if I’m being honest. I think we want to encourage investment. Profits are not an enemy of conservatives. Profits mean more investment. Profits mean more research. Profits mean more jobs,” she said.
Jacob Rees Mogg The Minister for Brexit Opportunities warned against the idea that business was, as he put it, a ‘honeypot’ that ‘you can just loot when you feel like it’. He said: ‘Retrospective taxation is difficult because you change people’s understanding of what they do when they invest.
Dominique Raab Taking aim at opposition calls for a windfall tax, the Deputy Prime Minister called the idea “frankly ill thought out”. He told Sky News: “If you look at Labour’s policy of a windfall tax, it would hurt investment in the energy supplies we need and drive up bills. It’s disastrous. It’s not serious.”
On the fence?
Boris Johnson The Prime Minister declined to rule out a U-turn to impose a windfall tax on energy firms earlier this month. “The downside of these kinds of taxes is that they discourage investment,” he said in an interview with LBC, before adding “we’ll have to think about it” when told that the bosses of the energy had declared that such a tax would not deter them from investing in new technologies. He said, “I don’t like them. I don’t think they are the right way to go. I want these companies to make big, big investments.
Rishi Sunak The chancellor said he was “pragmatic” about the idea of a one-off tax on energy companies, saying “no option is on the table”. During a question-and-answer session with Mumsnet in April, he said he feared the plan would delay investment in new oil and gas extraction. However, he added: “If we don’t see that kind of investment coming forward and companies don’t make those investments in our country and in energy security, then of course that’s something I would look at and nothing is ever off the table in these things.
simon clark The chief treasury secretary said he was not “philosophically attracted” to the idea of a windfall tax, but appeared to be laying the groundwork to support it. “The sector is currently making huge profits,” he told LBC. “If these profits are not directed in a way that is productive for the real economy, clearly all options are on the table. And that’s what we communicate to the industry, that obviously we want to see that investment, we have to see that investment.