Britons 'just have to accept tough winter ahead' but 'substantial' support coming, says PM
Critics have labelled Boris Johnson's decision to invest in the Sizewell C nuclear plant as a "bad decision" and "diversion", reports Shehab Khan.
Britons "just have to accept" that we are facing a "very tough winter," Boris Johnson has said as he vowed that his successor will provide "substantial sums" to help with the cost of living crisis.
Delivering one of his final speeches as prime minister on Thursday, Mr Johnson outlined his vision for long-term investment in green energy rather than a short-term fix for the cost of living crisis.
Speaking in Suffolk, Mr Johnson promised £700 million of government funding for a new multi-billion pound Sizewell C nuclear power plant, urging the country to "go large" on the project in one of his final acts as PM.
He framed the investment as a way to improve the UK's long-term energy security, as millions of householders face soaring energy bills as a result of the increasing gas prices, partly driven by the war in Ukraine.
"Families up and down country are going to face a very tough winter and we just have to accept that," he said.
"What I would say to people is the government really, really understands the difficulties you are facing. We totally get it."
Mr Johnson said he expects his successor will provide families with further support to help with bills - despite Downing Street maintaining the position that any further help packages will be for the new prime minister to confirm.
The outgoing PM again refused to say whether he will make a political comeback once he leaves Downing Street next week but vowed to give his "full and unqualified support" to either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak when they take over.
“We’re helping people now with the cost of living and of course there will be more cash to come, whoever takes over from me, in the months ahead – substantial sums, that’s absolutely clear," Mr Johnson said.
Tory leadership frontrunner Ms Truss has dropped further hints that she has softened her stance and is prepared to provide cost of living support rather than simply aim for tax cuts.
Pressure is increasing on the new prime minister to act urgently after Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi insisted “no-one should be cut off” because they cannot afford their energy bills.
Their remarks came as the Resolution Foundation warned the next PM’s time in office looks set to be dominated by the “terrifying” prospect of the biggest squeeze in living standards for a century, as energy bills soar and inflation worsens.
Regulator Ofgem has confirmed an 80% rise in the energy price cap, which will mean the average household’s yearly bill will go from £1,971 to £3,549 from October.
Mr Johnson also hit out at President Vladimir Putin's "kamikaze attack on the world economy" but insisted good will come out of the war and the energy crisis as the UK will become more energy independent.
"I'm sorry it's going to be tough but once we're through it, we'll be in a much better state," he continued.
"Out of this catastrophe of Putin's war I think good is going to come - Europe will wean itself off hydrocarbons, we'll no longer be subject vulnerable to his blackmail."
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Mr Johnson said there had been a “paralysis over British nuclear energy”, blaming successive governments for their "myopia" and failure to invest in new nuclear reactors and greener energy.
The new reactor at the Sizewell site in Suffolk is expected to be built in partnership with energy firm EDF and could power the equivalent of about six million homes.
Away from energy, Mr Johnson was asked whether he has any "regrets" about his time in office - to which he said he was "proud" of his government's achievements and "only time will tell" what legacy he leaves behind.