The big Tory lie: new North Sea gas and oil might not even come back to the UK

Grant Shapps: he likes to spout a lot of nonsense from his base in Welwyn Hatfield (this image is from a BBC interview in 2020) but he’s not so smooth when faced with an interviewer who has checked the facts before talking to him.

The 100 new contracts granted by Rishi Sunak for energy companies to drill for gas and oil in the North Sea do not mean those fossil fuels will be used in the UK, as he falsely claimed.

The drilling will be done by commercial firms who will then sell the fossil fuels they find on the international market. Some of it may come back to the UK but most of it probably won’t.

Here are the facts, presented by Sky’s Jayne Secker to a spluttering Grant Shapps:

Notice how he tried to change the subject when the facts were presented to him?

Oh, these substances have to go to the UK because they are processed here. But that doesn’t mean they are used here.

Oh, but not all of them are used for fuel. Some are turned into plastics. But plastic pollution is harming the planet as badly as global warming.

Oh, but some of it is used for medical devices within the NHS. But that’s a tiny amount that would not justify the granting of any more drilling licences.

It seems ever-more-clear that the new licences are more likely to be a way for Sunak to corruptly reward companies like BP for signing contracts with his father-in-law’s firm Infosys than to improve the UK’s energy security.

If Sunak and/or his government wish to deny this, then there is a simple way to clear the air:

Let’s have an independent public inquiry into the awarding of these contracts: what they are intended to do; the way they have been presented to the public; what the actual consequences are likely to be – and who benefits?

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