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Tory minister criticises own party’s Budget and slams energy plan as ‘deeply disappointing’

Science minister Andrew Bowie said the extension of the Energy Price Levy is “deeply disappointing”.

Zoe Grunewald
Wednesday 06 March 2024 18:39 GMT
Andrew Bowie has called the government’s decision to extend the windfall tax ‘deeply disappointing’

A serving Conservative minister has slammed the government’s plans to extend the windfall tax on oil and gas firms as “deeply disappointing” in a highly unusual intervention.

Science minister Andrew Bowie said the extension of the Energy Price Levy unveiled in today’s Budget is “deeply disappointing” and will be working with the Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, to resolve it.

Mr Bowie, who has served in government since 2018, has released a statement expressing his dismay with the chancellor’s decision to extend the windfall tax for an additional year. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt blamed the increase in energy prices on the Ukraine war.

The public statement puts Mr Bowie at odds with the government’s position and could threaten his ministerial job.

The windfall tax applies to profits made from extracting oil and gas and in its first year the scheme brought the UK government an extra £2.6bn. Mr Hunt announced that extending the energy profits levy for an additional year to 2029 will raise £1.5 billion.

Mr Ross said he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision and announced he would vote against the measure.

Mr Hunt delivered the spring budget (Parliament TV)

In a statement after the Budget was laid out in the Commons, Mr Ross said: “while I accept the chancellor had some tough decisions to make, I’m deeply disappointed by his decision to extend the windfall tax for a further year.

“The SNP and Labour have abandoned 100,000 Scottish workers by calling for the taps in the North Sea to be turned off now.

He added: “Although the UK Government rightly oppose this reckless policy – and have granted new licences for continued production in the North Sea – the budget announcement is a step in the wrong direction.

“As such, I will not vote for the separate legislation needed to pass the windfall tax extension and will continue to urge the chancellor to reconsider.”

Mr Bowie has now joined the criticsm, posting on X:

“I agree with Douglas. There is much in this budget to welcome. Much that is good for Scotland and our United Kingdom. And only the Conservatives have a plan. However, the extension of the EPL is deeply disappointing. I will be working with him to resolve this.”

More to follow...

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