Brexit: Expert discusses UK’s ‘vision’ and predictions
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The Prime Minister promised back in 2016 as a part of his Brexit referendum campaign that Britain could have the EU’s VAT on energy bills lifted. But now, Mr Johnson is refusing to scrap the rule, which was first brought in by the bloc back in 1993. It comes as energy costs are expected to skyrocket in Britain, prompting fears that the energy price cap will have to rise to £2,000 in April. This refers to the minimum tariff an energy supplier can charge a consumer.
And costs for the consumer have already been rising, with about 15 million households having seen their energy bills rise by 11 percent back in October.
A group of 20 Conservatives have called on Johnson to remove the tax on British energy bills, which consumers have to pay, arguing Britain was increasing prices “faster than any other competitive country” because of it.
VAT is currently levied at five percent on energy bills.
But Mr Johnson batted away the calls from his party members.
He did so despite claiming that Britain does now enjoy the “freedom to regulate our own VAT” since it left the EU.
He said while speaking at a televised press conference at Downing Street press conference: “The argument is that it’s a blunt instrument and the difficulty is that you end up cutting bills for a lot of people who perhaps don’t need the support in quite the direct way that we need to give it. We need to help people who are in fuel poverty the most.”
But this is not the only Brexit promise the Prime Minister has appeared to turn his back on in recent months.
Back in October, when Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the autumn budget, yet another Brexit pledge was abandoned.
The Chancellor announced that the UK will “maintain” its target to get to £22billion-a-year spending on research and development (R&D).
The Government did make a Brexit pledge to boost R&D spending to £22billion.
But it promised to do this by 2024/2025.
Instead, Mr Sunak’s announcement revealed that Britain would not reach this target until at least 2026/2027.
Mr Sunak said: “We will maintain our target to maintain R&D investment to £22billion.
“In order to get there, we will reach the target in 2026/2027.
“Spending by the end of this Parliament £20billion a year on R&D.”
But this target is two years later than the Brexit promise.
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And it does not end there, for yet another Brexit pledge could be on the verge of collapse.
A key feature of the Brexit agreement was for Britain to participate in Horizon Europe.
It is the EU’s £80billion research and innovation project that participants can access.
But Britain has had its participation delayed over Brexit disputes, and has been told that it cannot re-join until these are resolved.
Liz Truss, who has now taken the reigns as chief Brexit negotiator, will be eager to strike a deal with the EU and avoid Article 16 from being triggered.
If this happens, which Lord David Frost had threatened when in charge as Brexit Minister, Britain would be permanently excluded from Horizon Europe.
Not only would this see another Brexit pledge thrown down the drain, but it would also be significantly damaging for British science.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, told BBC News the EU’s refusal to let Britain re-join Horizon Europe would be a “significant blow” in the fight against cancer.
She said: “It will also put at serious risk the UK’s position of being at the forefront in the global effort in improving the prevention, treatment and diagnosis of cancer.
“The Government must strike a deal urgently for continued membership of Horizon Europe or the UK will weaken its position to collaborate and use science to address the global challenges we face.”
British firms who at first expected to benefit from Horizon Europe have had their hopes snatched away.British aerospace firm Orbex received funds from Horizon Europe early on.
This helped them to start work on Britain’s first orbital space launchpad in half a century.
But now that Britain’s formal association from the £80billion Horizon Europe project was suspended, it is unlikely that Orbex will receive any more European funds.
Orbex CEO Chris Larmour told Express.co.uk: “Nobody is very happy about it.
“We are unlikely to get any more [funding] from Europe.
“Even though the UK is paying into Horizon Europe, we as a company are unlikely to get anything out of it.”
Now that Mr Johnson has scored a hattrick of Brexit betrayals, the Prime Minister could be on his last legs.
And this comes as Mr Johnson’s approval ratings are now at an all-time low as his grip on power may appear to be slipping away.
According to the latest survey conducted by YouGov – released on December 20 – Mr Johnson has an overall approval rating of 23 percent.
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