Politics

Rees-Mogg takes on business and energy

As predicted, Jacob Rees-Mogg is the new business secretary. But he also extra responsibility for energy.

Image: Downing Street

The Guardian reported tonight that two Conservative MPs turned down the job of energy minister. The previous energy minister, Greg Hands, has not been told whether he will remain in post, the paper said.

Chris Skidmore, a former energy minister until 2020, was reportedly approached twice about taking back the role, the paper added. But he is said to have turned it down.

A climate change minister, Graham Stuart, was appointed late tonight.

Mr Rees-Mogg, the former Brexit opportunities minister, has previously questioned the UK’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 and has blamed high energy prices on “climate change alarmism”.

In April this year, he said Boris Johnson’s government wanted “every last drop” of oil and gas from the North Sea. He dismissed warnings that increasing fossil fuel production would reduce the UK’s chances of achieving net zero.

He told LBC at the time:

“2050 is a long way off,.

“We’re not trying to become net zero tomorrow. We’re going to need fossil fuels in the interim.”

Mr Rees-Mogg also described the idea of reopening shale gas sites as “quite an interesting opportunity”. He compared the threat of fracking to “a rock fall in a disused coalmine”.

Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, responded tonight:

“Putting someone who recently suggested ‘every last drop’ of oil should be extracted from the North Sea in charge of energy policy is deeply worrying for anyone concerned about the deepening climate emergency, solving the cost-of-living crisis and keeping our fuel bills down for good,”

The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, tweeted:  

“After three years with a reckless self-advancing PM, Liz Truss reportedly plans to lead us through biggest energy crisis in decades by making Jacob Rees-Mogg – known for snide notes to civil servants, horizontal slouching in Commons & devotion to fossil fuels – our energy secretary.”

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The shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, said:

“We need an energy secretary for the 2020s not the 1820s. But everything that Jacob Rees-Mogg has said on energy is stuck in the past.

“If ministers had acted on Rees-Mogg’s views then Britain would be even more exposed to skyrocketing energy bills this winter, more dependent on expensive fossil fuels and even less prepared to tackle the climate crisis.”

Ed Matthew, campaigns director at independent climate change think tank E3G, said:

“A Business Secretary who doesn’t understand we are in the midst of a green energy revolution or that this is the best way to bring down energy bills and generate economic growth would leave the business community in complete despair.”

Mr Rees-Mogg replaces Kwasi Kwarteng, who is the new chancellor.

Alok Sharma has been reappointed as COP26 president for international climate talks.

The new levelling up secretary, with responsibility for the planning system and shale gas appeals, is Simon Clarke, the former chief secretary to the Treasury.

Ranil Jayawardena is the new environment secretary, replacing George Eustice.

Updated 7/9/22 to include appointment of a climate change minister

5 replies »

  1. Graham Stuart MP appointed as
    Minister of State (Minister for Climate) in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

  2. Caroline may be able to influence some more if there were more Carolines!

    But there are not, so she will have to put up with other people having to make the decisions whilst she whinges. She may be better employed finding why there are not more Carolines.

    Heaven forbid, but a businessman in charge of business. Where will it end?

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