‘Right then, wrong now’: Kwasi Kwarteng criticised for U-turn on fracking

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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has been criticised by Sir Keir Starmer after Liz Truss announced the lifting of the ban on fracking – just months after the former energy minister rubbished shale gas extraction.

The Labour leader today told the new prime minister fracking will not boost the UK’s energy supply in the short term or improve energy security, adding that doubling down on fossil fuels is a "ludicrous" answer in light of the climate crisis.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he quoted Kwarteng’s tweets from March where the chancellor heavily criticised fracking, saying “no amount” of shale gas from wells across England would lower prices.

Green MP Caroline Lucas also joined in, tweeting: “Huge U-turn for new Chancellor Kwarteng who, 6 months ago, said ‘those who call for return (of fracking) misunderstand the situation: no amount of shale gas from 100s of wells across England would be enough to lower European price any time soon’.

“He was right then, wrong now.”

In February, Kwarteng said: “The UK has no gas supply issues. The situation we are facing is a price issue, not a security of supply issue.

“Put simply: we have lots of gas from highly diverse and secure sources - but it is very expensive.”

He added: “The wholesale price of gas has *quadrupled* in UK and Europe. Additional UK production won’t materially affect the wholesale market price.

“This includes fracking – UK producers won’t sell shale gas to UK consumers below the market price. They’re not charities.

“Remember: renewables are cheaper than gas. UK renewable capacity is up 500% since 2010 - but way more to do.

“The more cheap, clean power we generate at home, the less exposed we’ll be to global gas markets.”

Truss’s announcement comes as new research revealed that Conservative voters overwhelmingly support investment in renewable energy to tackle the cost of living crisis.

A total of 84 per cent of those who backed the Tories at the last election urging the Government to use new wind and solar farms to cut electricity bills, and 81 per cent of 2019 voters would support a renewable energy project in their area, according to research commissioned by RenewableUK.

The research suggests the Conservatives risk losing voters if they fail to support renewables.