Sir Jim Ratcliffe Criticises Labour’s Energy Plans Despite Backing Starmer

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the chief executive of Ineos and co-owner of Manchester United, has criticised Labour’s green energy plans, claiming they could tax North Sea oil and gas production “out of existence”.

This comes just days after he publicly supported Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Ratcliffe warned that Labour’s proposals to raise taxes on oil and gas producers and reduce North Sea tax allowances would threaten Britain’s energy security and lead to increased dependence on imported energy. “If we shut down the North Sea, what is that accomplishing? Because we’ll just have to import our energy,” he said.

Despite his recent endorsement of Sir Keir, Ratcliffe remains sceptical of Labour’s net zero policies. At The Times CEO summit in London, he called Labour’s plan to decarbonise the UK’s electricity system by 2030 “absurd,” questioning the feasibility of such a goal. “Where’s it all [electricity] going to come from?” he asked, highlighting the critical role of gas in maintaining electricity supply when renewable sources like wind fall short.

Ratcliffe emphasised the risks associated with Labour’s 2030 deadline, noting that most of the UK’s nuclear power stations are scheduled to close around that time. With key nuclear plants like Hartlepool and Heysham 1 set to shut down by 2026, and Heysham 2 and Torness by 2028, the UK would rely solely on Sizewell B until the much-delayed Hinkley Point C becomes operational, which is not expected before 2031.

“We’re not doing terribly well on building new nuclear power stations,” Ratcliffe said, criticising the lengthy construction timelines for new plants. He argued that without gas and nuclear power, and with the inconsistent output of wind energy, the UK could face significant power shortages.

Labour has responded by asserting that they plan to retain gas-fired power stations as a backup to ensure a reliable electricity supply. These stations, along with interconnector-supplied power from other countries, would be available when renewable sources fall short due to weather conditions or increased demand.

Ratcliffe, who has a net worth of £11.9bn, was a vocal supporter of Brexit but has been critical of the Conservative government’s handling of the UK’s departure from the EU and their economic management. “The Government is spending [over] a trillion pounds a year, a colossal amount of money, and it’s patently obvious that it’s not being spent well,” he stated.

His criticisms of Labour’s energy policy underscore the ongoing debate about the future of the UK’s energy sector and the balance between achieving net zero targets and maintaining energy security.

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