In any discussion of UK energy policy, we have come to expect Energy Ministers to appear upbeat even as the UK’s margin between supply and demand slips into the red. But move to a different context – such as the current in/out UK referendum campaign – and the veil may slip for a moment.
This may be what happened to Amber Rudd this morning. The “Project Fear” approach adopted by those who favour remaining in the EU demands that each government department takes its turn in making the case that the UK will go to hell in a handcart if we vote to leave.
Today was the turn of the Department for Energy and Climate Change. And in this context, Secretary of State Amber Rudd was unusually keen to point out just how precarious the UK’s energy situation is, and just how dependent we now are on energy generated elsewhere in Europe.
Much of the ensuing discussion has involved the usual overblown “In v Out” hype. But the genuinely important takeaway is that Britain is on track for a serious energy crunch – and that any solution to the problem is no longer in our own hands. For the best part of three centuries, Britain has been energy-independent. In future (like Ukraine in relation to Russia) the UK’s energy (and hence our prosperity) will be in the hands of others.