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Government accused of being out of touch with ‘ruthless net zero agenda’

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The Government has been accused of being “out of touch” with the country on net zero policy.

During a Commons session on energy security and net-zero, Conservative backbenchers questioned the Government’s strategy to reduce emissions, with Energy minister Justin Tomlinson stating the party had to “win hearts and minds”.

Meanwhile, Reform MP Lee Anderson (Ashfield) called green energy industrialist and Labour Party donor Dale Vince a “rich eco-fanatic”.

The new energy minister has defended the Government’s net zero agenda after a Tory former minister branded it “economic madness” and urged him to scrap it.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Dame Andrea Jenkyns (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Former minister Dame Andrea Jenkyns told the Commons: “Does the minister agree with me that it is economic madness to pursue our current ruthless net zero agenda, outsourcing carbon production to the likes of China and forcing us to pay more to heat our homes and power our economy?

“We must put the British taxpayer first.”

Mr Tomlinson, who took up the role of energy minister last week, replied: “It is crucial that we work with the public and businesses, not against them.

“But as we set out in our Powering Up Britain plan to secure our energy system, by ensuring a resilient and reliable supply, increasing our energy efficiency and crucially, as will be welcomed by her, bringing down bills.”

Mr Tomlinson replaced Graham Stuart, the Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, who announced his departure from the role to focus on local issues.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell (Romford) said the party was “not taking the people with us on this issue”.

He told the Commons: “I’ve been speaking to my constituents about the whole agenda of net zero and whilst the people of Romford are very determined to see cleaner and greener energy sources, I have to say the priority I think for my constituents is energy security, energy self-sufficiency and energy sovereignty.

“I’m worried that we’re not taking the people with us on this issue because a lot of people simply cannot afford this extreme agenda which actually could finish up giving China a competitive advantage.”

Mr Tomlinson replied: “(Mr Rosindall) highlights the importance of working with the public and business whilst the shadow secretary of state (Ed Miliband) wishes to sneer at those who are sceptical. We have to win hearts and minds.

“And that’s why (Mr Rosindall) will welcome our powering Britain plan to secure our energy system by ensuring a resilient and reliable supply, increasing our energy efficiency and crucially bringing down bills.”

Former Tory Mr Anderson told the Commons: “This whole net zero session this morning has proved once again to me how out of touch this place is with the rest of the country.

“The poorest 40% of UK households will be made much worse off with net-zero policies, this is according to a report from York University, the poor will get poorer and rich eco-fanatics like Dale Vince will get richer and pass off some of his millions to that lot there and Just Stop Oil.

“Can the minister confirm to me to the nearest trillion pounds, how much net-zero will cost?”

Energy minister Andrew Bowie replied: “I’m very proud of what this Government has done to protect the poorest in society from rising bills, which by the way was the result of international factors and a volatile gas market.

“But let me be absolutely clear, the only way that Dale Vince, his climate extremists and his enablers will come anywhere close to having influence on energy policy is by electing a Labour government, which frankly is the only thing voting Reform is going to achieve.”

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