Energy crisis: Red Wall MPs may feel ‘betrayed’
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An expert has warned Mr Johnson may soon face some political setbacks due to the ongoing energy crisis as UK residents face rising energy bills. It comes following a global shortage of natural gas earlier this year as economies unlocked from the pandemic. Last week, energy firms warned that bills were likely to remain high until at least 2023, as they called on ministers to provide consumers with relief from higher costs.
Analysts have warned that the UK’s energy price cap looks likely to rise by more than £700 in April.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mike Foster, the CEO of Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), an independent trade association, said that the Tory Government could face dire consequences as a result of the energy crisis.
He said: “We’re looking to the politicians to take action now, maybe only in the short term as a temporary, for the increases that people have already faced.
“More importantly, we know the increases they’re going to face come April when we believe that the price cap will increase significantly.
“Some organisations reckon a 50 percent increase in energy bills. It’s a shocking state of affairs if nothing is going to be done by the Government.
“That is a major political problem that the government has to address.”
In a poll conducted by the EUA, it was found that the cost-of-living crisis is hitting Red Wall voters hard, with an astonishing 79 percent suggesting the Government has alienated working families.
EUA’s analysis of the polling found that 17 of the 18 seats would switch back to Labour if there were to be an election now.
This comes after Mr Johnson has been accused of walking back on his Brexit Campaign promise by suggesting that he will not cut VAT on energy bills because it would help “a lot of people who perhaps don’t need the support” with rising living costs.
Mr Foster said: “Ahead of the Brexit referendum, Boris Johnson campaigned to get rid of all VAT on energy costs. That was one of the centrepieces of the Brexit campaign.
“That has got tremendous appeal, but at the last budget, where Rishi Sunak could have implemented that policy with an 80-seat majority, where it would have been very easy to do it, he chose not to.”
Even though only a handful of Red Wall seats were polled, Mr Foster is confident that the crisis would have an impact on traditionally conservative seats as well.
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He said: “ [This crisis] is affecting everybody. If you are a conservative MP, who was elected in an area that was previously Labour, you’re desperately trying to hold onto that seat.
“The cost is living issue is definitely having an impact on opinion polls broadly across the whole of the UK.
“As a consequence, you could see not just the red wall seat, but constituencies up and down the land switching sides if this is not addressed.
“That’s a problem not only for the PM, it’s also for a problem for 17 out of 18 MPs from the seats we polled who’d probably be out of a job if nothing is done about the looming energy costs.”
Mr Johnson’s promises during the Brexit referendum may have had an impact on the results of this polling.
Mr Foster said: “During the campaign, it’s on record that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove argued, quite rightly, that energy bills take up a disproportionate amount of an ordinary families’ income because people want to live in a warm and comfortable home.
“There is a disproportionate impact on the least well off for having a warm home, compared to what a millionaire may be spending on their bills.”
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