Fri, 19 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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Labour Accuse Boris Johnson Of Going “Cap In Hand” To Beg Saudis To “Bail Him Out” Of Energy Crisis

Angela Rayner accused the Prime Minister of going “cap in hand from one dictator to another” with his trip to Saudi Arabia (Parliamentlive.TV)

4 min read

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner has accused the Prime Minister of going “cap in hand from one dictator to another” to bail him out on energy as he visits Saudi Arabia today in a bid to tackle the soaring cost of bills.

Rayner said a failure to secure a more diverse range of energy supplies has seen the UK become “reliant on another murderous dictator to keep the lights on”.

Appearing opposite deputy prime minister Dominic Raab at Prime Minister’s Questions while Boris Johnson is abroad, Rayner asked if the government’s “only plan is to keep on begging?”.

"This week the prime minister has gone cap in had from one dictator to another on a begging mission to the Saudi prince to bail him out," she said. 

“The government has had 12 years to end their reliance on foreign oil and invest in homegrown energy to secure our supplies.

“Their failure has left us all vulnerable, reliant on another murderous dictator to keep the lights on and pumps open.”

In response Raab attempted to point out that Rayner had campaigned for former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister, and say that at the same time, Johnson as foreign secretary in 2018 was “leading the response to the nerve agent attack in Salisbury”.

But he was cut off by the Speaker in the Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who interjected: “I hate to say it, you can’t keep going back for 12 years as a defensive mechanism.”

Raab was also asked about the reports Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was on her way back to the UK from Iran, and although he said he could not confirm anything told MPs it "feels like positive signs".

Foreign secretary Liz Truss has since confirmed that Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been freed from prison in Iran and will arrive back in the UK on Wednesday evening. 

Rayner asked whether the government would “commit to a review of these cases to understand what more could have been done by the British government to secure releases”.

She also accused Johnson of having worsened the situation when he made "lazy comments" as foreign secretary in 2017 when he said Zaghari-Ratcliffe was “teaching journalism” in Iran when she was detained. 

Having previously served as foreign secretary Raab said he “worked for two years with the concerted diplomatic effort” to get her released.

He replied to the Labour deputy leader: “She shouldn't give succour to the despotic regime that detained our nationals in Iran or around the world by suggesting it is anyone else's responsibility other than theirs."

Johnson has been meeting with the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed al Nayhan, in Abu Dhabi this morning.

He has since travelled to Riyadh to meet with the kingdom’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and ask Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to help the world “get off Russian hydrocarbons”.

But he has been criticised for the trip given the country’s poor human rights record and its execution of 81 men in a single day at the weekend.

Johnson said he has “raised all those issues many, many times over the past”, and pledged to raise them again today.

Asked if he believes he can convince Saudi and the other Opec oil-producing countries to “turn the taps on”, he said it was not just about increasing supply but also about getting more investment in renewable energy such as UK wind farms, many of which are funded by the Emirates.

“We're already one of the biggest producers of offshore wind power in the world,” Johnson said.

“When we look at the dependency that the West in particular has built up on Putin's hydrocarbons, on Putin's oil and gas, we can see what a mistake that was because he's been able to blackmail the West to hold Western economies to ransom.”

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