Rishi Sunak walks out of interview after Boris question

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This was revealed to Express.co.uk in an exclusive chat with Mike Foster, head of Energy Utilities Alliance. He said that the Chancellor could step in and rescue the Conservative Party’s popularity in the former Labour heartlands that were snatched from the current opposition in 2019. It comes after Boris Johnson’s popularity has been slashed in recent weeks, including in the Red Wall which consists of many Brexiteers.

With trust in the Prime Minister plummeting after it emerged that he attended a party at 10 Downing Street (breaking his own Covid rules), another crisis is unfolding too.

That is the energy crisis, which has sparked fears of soaring energy bills.

Costs for the consumer are expected to soar by 50 percent when the price cap (the minimum tariff suppliers can charge) rises to £2000 in April.

But there are ways for the crisis to be alleviated, according to Mr Foster.

He said that by scrapping EU VAT on energy bills (a 5 percent levy), Britons could save up to £100.

He told Express.co.uk: “There is a range of short-term measures the Government can adopt to mitigate the impact of sky-high energy bills and win back the support of Red Wall voters.

“Firstly, scrapping VAT on energy costs, this will save the average household £100.”

But Mr Johnson has called this measure a “blunt instrument”.

This is despite Mr Johnson promising during the Brexit referendum campaign that Britain could scrap the EU rule, which was brought in back in 1993.

Mr Foster said: “It is a clear betrayal of Brexit voters, who were promised that VAT on energy bills would be scrapped.

“If the Prime Minister doesn’t stay true to his word, they would be right to feel they have been lied to.”

Mr Foster gave Mr Sunak another way to win back the hearts of Red Wall voters.

He told Express.co.uk: “Increasing targeted support such as the Warm Homes Discount, frozen for ten years at £140 a year, could be increased
substantially as it is paid to low-income households.”

In other words, low-income households can apply for a £140 discount on electricity bills for winter.

Mr Sunak could increase this to win more support.

Mr Foster presented another idea to alleviate rising energy bills.

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He told Express.co.uk: “The Winter Fuel Payment to pensioners
could also be increased.”

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills if you apply for the Winter Fuel Payment.

The last pillar of the plan concerns green levies.

The levy, which pays for insulation and new boilers, adds £29 to the average annual energy bill.

It is seen as an important part of the government’s attempt to hit net zero emissions by 2050.

Now, the Treasury is reportedly reviewing the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), a £1 billion levy on energy bills that helps about 200,000 households a year.

But Mr Foster has a different solution.

He said: “The levies and charges still need to be paid, but switching them
from energy bills to general taxation will give that extra support to hard-pressed families.”

This all comes as Mr Sunak has spoken out after holding his breath on the “Partygate” scandal.

The Prime Minister has admitted to and apologised to Parliament for getting involved in the Downing Street bash back in May 2020.

Mr Johnson has claimed he “socially distanced drinks” in the Number 10 garden.

The Chancellor told Sky News that he “fully supports” Mr Johnson’s demands for “patience” in waiting for the Sue Gray investigation into the parties to conclude.

But when asked if he supported the Prime Minister “unequivocally”, Mr Sunak bolted for the door.

Sky’s Jane Secker made note of the Chancellor’s “swift exit”.

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