Higher energy bills are a price worth paying to guarantee the UK’s security from foreign aggressors, but the cost should not be passed on to householders, Liz Truss has said.
The British prime minister warned that the UK must not jeopardise its safety for the sake of cheap gas and oil from authoritarian regimes such as Russia.
On her flight to the US for the UN general assembly, she said the west had become “too dependent” on such nations for energy supplies.
Truss told reporters: “It’s a price worth paying for Britain, because our long-term security is paramount. But what I don’t want to happen is for that to be passed on to bill payers.”
However, she reiterated her opposition to rationing energy to help avoid shortages this winter, despite it being a key fallback measure in the government’s “worst case” contingency planning.
Truss’s predecessor, Boris Johnson, had said that “the price of freedom is worth paying” as the war in Ukraine drove up the price of energy, food and fuel in Britain.
The former prime minister had likened the conflict to defeating Nazi Germany in the second world war, which had been “very expensive” but delivered “long-term stability”.
Asked whether she also believed the financial pain at home in the UK was worth it, Truss replied: “I think it’s right that we cannot jeopardise our security for the sake of cheap energy. That’s the mistake that the entire western world made post war.
“It’s becoming too dependent on authoritarian regimes, not just for our energy supplies, but also for other critical minerals and other goods.”
However, she added: “What we can’t allow to happen is for that cost to go on the bills of people across the United Kingdom, which is why we have stepped in as government and said: ‘We are going to put in place an energy price guarantee to make sure that people are able to get through this winter and next winter, without those very high bills.’”
Truss ruled out the government telling households how to save energy after she was asked whether people should be told to wrap up warm when the temperatures plummet.
“No, we are not talking about rationing of energy,” she said.
“Of course, I always support energy efficiency measures like home insulation, that makes sense, and energy prices are higher than they were.
“There is a strong incentive for businesses and households to invest in energy efficiency, but we do have reliable supplies of energy, but ultimately everyone makes their own decisions about how they decide to do those things.”