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Boris Johnson on the tarmac of Southampton airport during a local elections campaign visit (Photo: Adrian Dennis via PA Wire/PA Images)
Boris Johnson has insisted the government will not impose a windfall tax on energy firms - because the companies themselves “don’t want” one.
The prime minister insisted a one-off levy on their bumper profits would stop them being able to invest in jobs and renewable energy.
But he was undermined by Bernard Looney, the chief executive of BP, who told The Times that a windfall tax would not stop any projects they currently have planned.
Labour and the Lib Dems have both called for a levy on the huge profits currently being enjoyed by energy companies as a result of the global spike in oil and gas prices.
Asked if Looney’s comments had changed his views on the merits of a windfall tax, the prime minister said: “[Energy firms] don’t want a windfall tax and there’s a good reason for that, and that is because it would stop investment in new technology and in new green power that we need.
“The problem we have got is that … this is an incredible country, incredible economy, fifth biggest in the world, but we’re mainlining energy from France. It’s insane.
“We haven’t invested enough in our own domestic energy and we need these big energy companies to step up to the plate and put their money into sustainable solutions, more green energy and to help keep costs down.
“That is a much, much better solution than clobbering them and dissuading them, stopping them from making that investment. We need those companies to be investing now in the power supply that is going to keep costs down.”
Pat McFadden, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “The prime minister’s comments make it clear, the Conservatives are only interested in protecting oil and gas profits while Labour is on the side of working families.
“BP’s chief executive has said that a windfall tax would not affect investment plans and profits are so high that the company is planning to buy back shares.
“This government is now at the point of defending the indefensible and is letting families struggle rather than taking sensible action.
“A vote for Labour on Thursday is a vote for our plan that would save people up to £600 on their bills, supporting families when they need it most. Britain deserves better.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.