Lower fuel prices were supposed to be a bonus from Brexit. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove dangled that carrot in front of voters in a bid to persuade them to opt for Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.
‘’Fuel prices will be lower for everyone,’’ they wrote in The Sun newspaper, because Brexit would allow them to scrap a £2 billion per year tax on electricity prices. That would, they promised, be part of an £11bn a year saving from Britain’s contributions to the European Commission.
Scotland, of course, knows only too well what is likely to happen when Westminster politicians make promises on the eve of a referendum. The infamous Vow before the 2014 independence referendum saw them promise all sorts of new powers and an improved status within the Union if they voted No.
The reality was very different once the votes were counted. The promises came to nothing and Scotland was treated with increasing disdain. We’re now seeing that same pattern being repeated after England and Wales used force of numbers to push through Brexit against the will of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Today fuel prices are soaring. Energy suppliers are now paying up to 250% more for gas. As a result consumers face higher energy bills next month and energy suppliers, who are limited in how much they can charge by a government energy cap, will go to the wall.
That cap will rise in October. Consumers on standard tariffs could see an increase of £139 a year. Those with pre-payment meters could see an increase of £153 a year. Those on fixed tariffs won’t be affected … until their contracts run out and there won’t be cheap deals to replace them.
But even with the price cap rising four small energy suppliers have stopped trading and more are expected to follow.
You won’t find the Prime Minister and his newly promoted colleague Michael Gove mention Brexit, yet there’s no doubt that it shoulders part of the blame
Many factors are blamed for the price rise: a reduction in the volume of renewable energy, supposedly because it’s been the least windy summer since 1961, and a recent fire at a National Grid site in Kent are just two frequently mentioned causes. Even the pandemic is blamed for a spike in demand after the easing of lockdown restrictions.
What you won’t find the Prime Minister and his newly promoted colleague Michael Gove mention is Brexit, yet there’s no doubt that it shoulders part of the blame. The UK is outside the EU internal energy market, which uses linked auctions to balance prices. It is not part of that arrangement despite the fact that a significant proportion of the UK’s energy needs are met by supplies imported from Europe.
A website which gives data on European energy markets – Epexspot – shows that energy auction prices are considerably higher in the UK than in the EU.
Post-Brexit Britain’s vulnerability to higher energy prices is hardly a surprise
A report in the New Statesman suggests that the Westminster government thought that by staying out the internal energy market it could get cheaper energy than anywhere else. The reality is that there is now no cheap energy and the UK is more exposed to higher prices.
Post-Brexit Britain’s vulnerability to higher energy prices is hardly a surprise. The Byline News site refers back to a report from the House of Lords EU environment sub-committee in March warning that energy prices would rise because of the inefficient cross-border trading arrangements between the UK and Europe.
The report stated: ‘’Great Britain is currently trading electricity with continental Europe and with the [single market] through less efficient arrangements.’’
A report in Money Supermarket in January warned: ‘’The UK has now left the EU internal energy market, which means trade by these interconnectors [France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland] could be less efficient and more expensive. This is likely to have a knock-on effect for bills.’’
It’s not the only cause of the current fuel crisis but Brexit is certainly one of the causes. Add this to the food shortages caused by the Brexit-induced lorry driver crisis, the decimation of our exports to the EU caused by Boris Johnson’s disastrous Brexit trade deal and the impending threat to shop supplies at Christmas and Brexit is now revealed as possibly the greatest act of self-harm in the history of modern Britain.
And this government is revealed as the most incompetent and cruellest in decades. The rising fuel prices comes as food is becoming more expensive and universal credit is being cut. Every week provides more evidence that Scotland must vote for independence to escape a mounting catastrophe.