Boris Johnson has pledged his full support for the next Prime Minister but couldn’t help but use his penultimate speech to criticize Liz Truss’ energy plans.
In a bid to shore up his legacy days before leaving No 10, the outgoing Tory leader hailed the government’s ‘fast-track and long overdue reforms’ to make the UK more energy independent and announced 700 million pounds for the Sizewell C nuclear power station.
But he disparaged fracking, which Truss has pledged to lift the ban on, and hydrocarbons, another energy source his likely successor wants to exploit through new drilling in the North Sea.
“If we could fracture effectively and cheaply in this country, that might be a very beneficial thing. I’m just, I have to say, slightly doubtful that this will prove to be a panacea,” Johnson said on Thursday.
“I would much rather we focus on the things where we’re brilliant and the environmental damage is really minimal.”
Johnson later added, “Tell anyone who thinks hydrocarbons are the only answer and we should be doing fracking and all that: offshore wind is now the cheapest form of electricity in this country. … Of course, it’s entirely clean and green.”
The comments will be seen as a mockery at Truss, which pledged last week to “end the effective ban on extracting our huge reserves of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing”, and which would like to deliver up to 130 new drilling licenses for oil and gas. companies to explore new fields in the North Sea.
Reflecting on his future, Johnson said he was ‘ready to move on with his life’, and he refused to consider whether he would quickly fade out of politics, like David Cameron, or stay on the backbenches , as Theresa May did.
“Only time will tell, that’s my answer on that,” he replied. “My intention – and what I will certainly do – is to give my full and wholehearted support to whoever succeeds me.”
Johnson also dodged questions about whether he regretted his premiership, saying he would leave it to “younger, fitter and more active reporters than me” to assess.
Emphasizing the message he had for people worried about paying their energy bills this winter amid rising inflation and the threat of recession, he said people should prepare for a “very difficult and we just have to accept it”.
“We are on your side,” he insisted, adding that there would be another package of support from the next prime minister, to be announced next Monday and taking office the following day.
“The future will be brighter when we are more self-sufficient” and less dependent on energy imports, Johnson predicted.
After being accused by Rishi Sunak of ignoring the harms of the lockdown during the Covid pandemic, Johnson said the criticism that it had caused the NHS’ huge backlog of surgery was a “reversal of logic”.
Instead, he said, the opposite was the case; had the three national lockdowns not been ordered, the NHS would be in an ‘even worse’ position.
Johnson will travel to meet the Queen at Balmoral to officially step down next Tuesday, with his successor officially named shortly thereafter. The new prime minister will return to London to appoint a cabinet, then face questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.