What the Tories said about a 'socialist' energy price cap four years ago

Theresa May's energy cap has been criticised (Getty)
Theresa May’s energy cap has been criticised (Getty)

Theresa May’s plan for an energy price cap has been slammed by industry figures, who claim that the move will push up prices.

The Conservative leader vowed to place a cap on standard variable tariffs to remove the ‘injustice’ of soaring energy costs.

The move would save 17 million customers £100 each year, according to the Tories.

Iain Conn, Chief Executive of Centrica, the owner of British Gas, attacked the proposal, saying that there are ‘some at the heart of the government who just don’t believe in free markets.’

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The policy is remarkably similar to the bill cap offered by the Labour party back in 2013, which David Cameron dismissed at the time as ‘Marxist’.

There are some differences – Labour proposed a price freeze rather than a cap, and Mrs May wants the energy regulator not the government to do the policing. But the disparities end there.

Four years ago the former PM clashed with then Labour leader Ed Miliband over the proposal, calling the price freeze ‘a gimmick not a policy’.

Speaking in the commons, Mr Cameron said: ‘I know he would like to live in some sort of Marxist universe where you can control all these things but he needs a basic lesson in economics.”

‘This is not a policy, it is a gimmick. Of course we all want to see lower energy prices – and we are tackling the cause of high prices.’

Mr Miliband hit back, accusing the Tory leader of backing ‘the energy companies not the consumer’.

Tory bigwigs were tripping over each other before the 2015 election to pan Labour’s price cap.

George Osborne said: ‘Companies will jack up the prices before the freeze, so in the short term prices go up. Companies will not invest in this country to build the power stations we need, so in the long term prices go up.’

Michael Fallon joined in, saying: ‘We have not seen intervention in industry on a scale like this since the 1970s when they tried to control the price of bread.’

Boris Johnson gave his two cents, proclaiming: ‘Miliband says he will imitate the catastrophic policies of the emperor Diocletian, by imposing a price freeze on energy bills for the 20 months succeeding the election.’