The disgraced British leader’s tip from his final speech confused and appalled critics
“If you have an old kettle that takes ages to boil, it may cost you £20 to replace it, but if you get a new one, you’ll save £10 a year every year on your electricity bill,” outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared in his final policy speech to reporters in Suffolk on Thursday.
Johnson explained that financial assistance for families facing record-high energy bills, which are expected to exceed £3,500 annually on average when the price cap is lifted in October, would be determined by his successor – either Foreign Secretary Liz Truss or former Chancellor Rishi Sunak. However, he reassured onlookers that it would be plentiful. “Of course, there will be more cash to come, whoever takes over from me, in the months ahead – substantial sums, that’s absolutely clear,” he said.
The caretaker prime minister also promised £700 million to fund an expansion of the Sizewell C nuclear power plant, arguing that, like the tea kettle, it was necessary to pay more upfront in order to realize savings later and safeguard the UK’s energy security. It would be “madness” not to fund it, he said, outlining the six million homes it could power and tens of thousands of jobs it would supposedly create.
Johnson’s critics slammed both the nuclear project funding and the kettle comments as out of touch, characterizing the nuclear energy market as moribund and Johnson himself as either callous or clueless.
While Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has said “nothing is off the table” with regard to the government helping citizens with heating costs this winter, Truss, the odds-on favorite to replace Johnson next week, has already ruled out the most obvious avenue of funding, pledging “no new taxes” will be imposed to tame the energy crisis.
The think tank Resolution Foundation, meanwhile, has published a report predicting the UK would face its worst squeeze of living standards in 100 years, with an “unprecedented two-decade-long wage depression” resulting from massive inflation leaving 3 million more Britons in poverty without government intervention and costing the average family £3,000 over the next two years.
An IMF analysis published on Thursday found that not only was the UK the worst-hit by the energy crisis triggered by EU sanctions on Russian oil and gas, but that the burden was disproportionately falling on the poor, who are projected to spend nearly three times more of their income on energy this year than the wealthy.