Speech to conference – Bournemouth 2016
This is shaping up to be a great Party Conference. It is our first Conference since our great victory in the Brexit Referendum. It is the Conference where we say farewell to Party Leader Nigel Farage, and greet new Party Leader Diane James.
Let me first of all add my voice to all the tributes which have already been paid to Nigel. Every one of us in this hall played a part in the Brexit Campaign, but I very much doubt that we should have won it without Nigel’s tireless efforts, both during the campaign, and during the two decades when he led and inspired and nurtured the Party.
Nigel will be an incredibly tough act to follow, but we wish Diane James every success as the new Party Leader. She has a tough job to do, but she has the skills, the character, the determination and the media savvy to succeed, and I am sure that Diane can count on the support of all of us in this Hall, and throughout the Party, in the task she has undertaken.
Diane will be making her own decisions and her own appointments for policy spokesmen for the Party, and I shall be happy to pass on my responsibility for industry and energy to whomever she chooses to appoint. But I have had the privilege of speaking for the Party on these issues for the past four and a half years, so perhaps I may take ninety seconds of your time to outline a few key thoughts for future energy policy.
First nuclear. I have always been convinced that nuclear energy must be a key element in a rational British energy policy, and initially I welcomed the decision to proceed with Hinkley C. But I have become increasingly concerned about the costs. Nuclear power is potentially cheap over the lifetime of a reactor. Yet we have struck a deal which makes nuclear energy as expensive as off-shore wind – and that at a time when fossil fuel prices are trending downwards. Add to that the increasing security concerns about the Chinese involvement, and I’m afraid we have to say that Hinkley C is a bad deal for Britain. My strong advice to my successor would be “Nuclear Yes: Hinkley No”.
Then renewables. I and the Party have been resolutely opposed to wind and solar, for a whole range of reasons, but mostly because they represent a threat both to affordability, and to security of supply. That is still true today, but we need to watch developments closely. The costs of both solar and wind are reducing. The industry is claiming “grid parity” for renewables. They are wrong to do so, because intermittency imposes additional costs which they mostly choose to ignore. But equally there are rapid developments in large-scale energy storage. Today, we do not yet have the massive storage capacity which would overcome the intermittency problem – but in ten years’ time, we may well have it.
This does not mean that we are wrong to resist renewables today. If I’m right that renewables will become economically viable, with reduced costs and massive storage capacity, say by 2025, we shall still look back and ask why we squandered huge resources covering the country with equipment which, from that future vantage point, will look hopelessly clunky, old-fashioned and inefficient.
Then gas. It was Labour Statesman Aneurin Bevan (those were the days when the Labour Party actually had statesmen) who said “Britain is an island made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish” – and Conference, we expect to get those fish back following Brexit! But if he were here today, Bevan might well say “An island built on gas and surrounded by fish”.
I know that there are real concerns about shale gas amongst the public – and perhaps in our Party – and that is not surprising given the torrent of negative propaganda surrounding the technology. But an independent Britain needs independent energy, and we cannot ignore the potential under our feet. If the shale gas reserves are anywhere near some of the estimates, then the impact on the economy, on prosperity, on jobs, on our energy security, our balance of payments and our tax revenues will be dramatic. It would be irresponsible to ignore so big an opportunity.
But let’s return to the main theme of our conference today. Brexit, and our amazing victory.
During the referendum campaign I was always careful to warn of possible economic volatility around the Brexit vote, and Conference, I’ll be honest. I anticipated that if we won, there would be months, perhaps years, of bad headlines. I thought that perhaps our main task after the vote would be to keep reassuring people that the benefits of Brexit would come through eventually, and that we had to grit our teeth during the economic upheaval of disengagement. And let’s be clear – there will be bad news as well as good as we move forward to liberation from Brussels.
But the news so far is better than my wildest dreams. There’s been no emergency Budget. Mortgage rates have not rocketed. House prices have not slumped. The Footsie is ahead of its pre-Brexit level. High-street spending is up. Confidence has recovered in services and manufacturing. Cars are selling. There is a tourist boom in London and across the country. Hotels, bars and restaurants are full (and that’s not just Kippers celebrating).
Countries around the world, frustrated in their efforts to negotiate with the EU, are queuing up to talk trade deals with a newly independent UK. Yes, the Pound is down – but that has proved a tonic for exports, with our balance of payments deficit down. And most economists believed that the Pound was over-valued and needed an adjustment.
So what has suffered from Brexit? I’ll tell you. The reputation of George Osborne. And the Treasury. And Mark Carney at the Bank of England. And the IMF. And President Obama. And assorted banks, consultants, accounting firms and rating agencies. They all got it wrong.
Some of the whining Remainians are calling for a Second Referendum. But what could they say? Their whole case was based on Project Fear. The sky would fall if we voted to leave. But the sky didn’t fall. Project Fear has imploded. It has vanished in a puff of smoke. They have no case to argue.
On social media, some voices are saying that now we’ve won, UKIP can pack up and go home. Mission accomplished. No more to be done. Some suggest that UKIP MEPs should resign in a body, in a great gesture of triumphant hubris.
But colleagues remember that we may have voted for Brexit. But today as we speak, the UK is still a fully paid-up member of the EU. Still subject to EU law. Still paying billions for the privilege of membership. And with a Prime Minister who insists that Brexit means Brexit – but seems uncertain what Brexit means. So let’s tell her.
Brexit means independence. It means we will no longer be subject to EU laws and policies. We will pay nothing to the EU budget. We will control our own borders and our own immigration. And our own fisheries. And as a strong and independent nation, we will negotiate trade terms on a similar basis with the EU as we will with America, and China, and any other country. We will not accept the Swiss or the Norwegian models, and their dodgy compromises with Brussels.
So our job is not finished. We have to hold Theresa May’s kitten-heels to the fire, and make sure there is no backsliding.
I occasionally read a little poetry or history, and though I’m not a religious man, I recently found a prayer of Sir Francis Drake which fits the bill today. He faced the Spanish Armada – possibly the greatest military machine the world had yet seen — but they say he insisted on finishing his game of bowls on Plymouth Ho before going down to blow the European fleet out of the water. Sir Francis prayed:
“Oh Lord God, When though givest it to thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same unto the end, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory”. Colleagues, we have won a great battle, but the war won’t be won until Britain is independent again.
I said to begin with that we owe a great debt of gratitude to Nigel Farage. Not just we in this hall today, but the whole party, and indeed the whole country. But perhaps, just perhaps, the whole of Europe will also be in his debt. Be in no doubt, colleagues, that our Brexit victory has inspired other movements across Europe. The Swedish Democrats — we have Peter Lundgren at our Conference today. The German AfD. In Italy, the Five Star Movement. The Freedom Party in Austria. The Visegrad Group in Eastern Europe, which is in revolt against the EU’s migrant plans.
Let me close with one last quotation, this time from William Pitt the Younger in his last public speech in the City of London in 1805, just after the victory in the Battle of Trafalgar. He said “England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example”.
Colleagues, like Martin Luther King, I too have a dream. A dream of a free and prosperous Europe of democratic sovereign states linked solely by free trade and voluntary intergovernmental cooperation. I believe that that dream is closer to achievement now than ever in my lifetime.
And if it comes about, much of the credit will be due to this Party. To UKIP. We did it. Well done, colleagues, well done.
Plenary Speech Climate Change October 14th 2015
Here we go again. Another UN Climate Conference. As ever, high hopes disappointed. Commitments below expectation. Implementation below commitments.
We should remember that there is still huge uncertainty around the climate issue.
It is not clear that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic, or that atmospheric CO2 has anything like the effect postulated by the IPCC.
Nor is it clear that the climate policies we’re pursuing will have any material effect on atmospheric CO2 levels or on climate.
What is absolutely clear is that we are utterly unable to predict future changes — all the predictions so far have been falsified by events. And it is clear that our climate policies will do far more economic damage than anything that could be envisaged as a result of climate change.
It is time to question our hysterical obsession with the new religion of climate alarmism.
It is clear that Volkswagen has deliberately broken the law, and deliberately misled both regulators and customers. It was wrong to do so. It should rightly face appropriate and proportionate penalties.
But we must understand the regulatory environment in which this scandal has emerged. The truth is that legislators were consumed by climate hysteria and carbon-phobia, and as a result we pushed car owners, and the auto industry, towards diesel, which was seen as a lower-emission fuel.
In fact its CO2 emissions are only marginally less than petrol, and in any case CO2 is not a pollutant. It is a natural, non-toxic trace gas which is essential to life on Earth. But as we are now realising, diesel’s other emissions – SOx and NOx and particulates — are highly toxic, and our dash for diesel has done more harm than good.
VW was trying to follow regulatory pressure by moving to diesel power, but found that it was unable at the same time to meet emissions targets, so it decided to cheat. It was wrong to do so, but so were we, as legislators, wrong to impose conflicting and contradictory demands on the industry.
I see a parallel here, Mr. President, with our ill-judged rush to promote bio-fuels, before we understood the issues of energy inputs to agriculture, and the implications of Indirect Land Use Change. By mandating 10% biofuels, and then later rowing back, we sent confused signals to industry and caused great damage to investors.
It is no part of my job to defend German industry. But nor is this a time for schadenfreude. I am concerned that the potential hit to Volkswagen could damage all of us – especially if, as many expect, other companies are drawn into the scandal.
With the prospect of multi-billion dollar fines in several countries, recall costs, class actions from owners and so on, it is not inconceivable that VW could fail. That is an outcome we should seek to prevent.
The ETS has been in place for ten years and has totally failed to deliver the intended price signals in the market, despite repeated tweaking (Back-loading, market stability reserve).
Along with other green measures it has forced up energy prices, undermined competitiveness, and driven energy-intensive industries out of the EU altogether. Often they go to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, arguably driving up emissions.
We have a policy that undermines our economy, costs jobs and closes plants, and yet which may add to atmospheric CO2.
We have been obliged to offer derogations to energy-intensive industries to mitigate the effects of carbon leakage – but this negates a large part of the ETS scheme, and leaves small and medium sized businesses carrying the burden.
Why is it that we in this house, and the other EU institutions, seem to be incapable of facing reality and admitting we were wrong? Here we are yet again tweaking a failed ETS system. Why don’t we have the courage to say “Sorry guys – we meant well – but the ETS has comprehensively failed. We’ll scrap it and go back to the drawing board”?
Just for once, Mr, President, Colleagues, let’s recognise reality and apply some common sense.
Spring Conference Speech 2015: Energy
Good Morning Conference!
Our UKIP Energy Spokesman Roger Helmer is unable to be with us in Margate today, so he’s asked me to deliver his policy statement on Energy.
On Friday February 13th, the three old parties colluded to reinforce their failing climate policies. We’ve always said that the old parties don’t offer a genuine choice to voters — and this blatant collusion proves it. Now only UKIP offers a rational alternative for secure and affordable energy, for households and for British Industry.
Their plans are based on the 2008 Climate Change Act, which is estimated to cost an eye-watering £18 Billion a year for forty years — an eye-watering £720 billion over the period. That’s £28,000 over the period for every household in the country.
Yet this policy will fail in its own terms. It will not reduce global emissions. But it will do untold economic damage.
With all those wind farms they’re building, you may be wonder just why their policy won’t reduce emissions
Firstly, renewables are intermittent, so they require intermittent fossil-fuel back up. But running the back-up intermittently is inefficient, and substantially off-sets the savings from renewables.
Secondly, while we focus on green gesture politics, other countries adopt a more rational approach. There are 1200 new coal-fired power plants in the global pipeline. Global emissions will increase whatever we do.
Thirdly, energy-intensive industries are moving offshore, taking their jobs and their investment — and their emissions — with them.
And fourth, if we achieve any reduction in fossil fuel use in Europe, it will simply create more elbow-room, and lower prices, in global energy markets, leading to more consumption elsewhere.
As Roger has often said, these policies are utterly ineffectual. But they are undermining our economy.
But we don’t have to take Roger’s word for it. Former Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has said “Europe can no longer afford to adopt a unilateral climate policy”. And there’s little sign of the rest of the world coming on board.
And former Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani – now a prominent MEP on the Industry Committee– has said “We are creating an Industrial Massacre in Europe (with energy prices)”. Strong language for a European Commissioner.
In fact leaving aside Japan, which as an island nation with no indigenous energy resources is a special case. we find that energy prices in the EU are now double those of major competitors:
How has this come about? The EU has set aggressive targets for emissions reductions, which have meant gross over-investment in intermittent and expensive renewables. The EU has forced the closure of low-cost coal-fired power stations. It’s created a cat’s-cradle of subsidies; incentives; renewables obligations; quasi-carbon-taxes like the Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS; capacity payments for spinning reserve, and so on. And it has resolutely set its face against low-cost alternatives like coal and indigenous gas.
Let’s be clear: this is not some accident of fate or freak of nature. This is deliberate policy. And when Roger challenged the new EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete on this issue, his solution was simply “a more integrated European energy market”. As Roger put it at the time, that’s fiddling at the margin, and ignoring the real issues.
Roger has repeatedly insisted that energy pricing in the EU is driving industries, jobs and investment off-shore, often to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, thus potentially increasing global emissions, while we undermine European economies. Let’s look at some examples.
Take aluminium. Since 2007, the European aluminium smelting industry has closed 36% of its capacity – eleven smelters out of 24. It’s lost around 42,000 jobs – many of them high-value jobs in R&D. And this is not because of lack of demand, which has been rising. So imports have been rising rapidly, and now amount to over 50% of European consumption. We’ve been exporting production, and jobs, and emissions.
What does this mean for Britain? In 2009, the Anglesey Aluminium plant closed down, with a loss of 400 jobs. A further 80 residual jobs went in 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglesey_Aluminium.
In Northumberland, the Alcan Lynemouth plant closed in 2012, with a loss of 515 jobs. The power plant that supplied it was ruled to be in breach of the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive.
But it’s not just aluminium. The steel industry is facing very similar problems. Between 2007 and 2014, EU production fell by 20% (despite increased consumption). An eye-watering 80,000 jobs were lost. And industry insiders tell me that a ton of steel made in Shanghai involves double the emissions of the same ton of steel made in Sheffield. Again, we’re exporting jobs and emissions.
Chemicals face the same problem. Twenty-two chemicals plants have closed in the UK since 2009. Jim Ratcliffe, Chief Executive of Ineos, says that the European Chemical industry in Europe could be extinct in ten years unless we address the problem. http://www.ineos.com/articles/inch-issue-6-2014/europes-chemical-industry-faces-extinction-in-10-years/
Petroleum refining is also facing problems. It’s now cheaper to import refined petrol from the USA or Russia than to refine it here in Europe. Seventeen refineries in Europe have shut down in the last seven years. A 10% capacity decline. Ten thousand direct and forty thousand indirect jobs lost. In 2009 Petroplus closed Teesside, and Coryton in 2012. Murco closed Milford Haven in 2014. Research commissioned and published by the British government shows that overseas refineries typically emit 35% more CO2 per unit than UK refineries.
There’s a similar story to tell in the cement and glass industries. In the glass industry, factories are closing in Europe only to be replaced by plants nearby, in Russia, in Turkey and in Egypt.
Much of our coal-fired generation capacity is being lost as a direct result of the EU’s large Combustion Plant Directive. Perfectly good coal-fired power stations, like Kingsnorth in Kent, are closing.
Of course we could be building new coal generating capacity, as Germany is doing – they have a couple of dozen new coal plants in the pipeline. But our government is running scared of the Green Lobby and a few dozen demonstrators. These people hate prosperity and growth and industry.
“Big Green” has been spreading black propaganda about both nuclear power and shale gas. Yet ironically nuclear and shale gas are arguably two of the safest and cleanest generation technologies which we have available. In the case of gas, many commentators also believe that the Russians are quietly backing anti-shale campaigns, desperate to protect Gazprom and Russian gas exports. https://euobserver.com/foreign/124680
Green campaign groups like to present themselves as friends of the earth.
But they are damaging our economy and undermining employment. They’re not Friends of the Earth. They’re Enemies of the People.
The EU sets fanciful targets for increasing manufacturing in Europe – but its policies are driving deindustrialisation on a grand scale.
Typical of the EU’s failed policies is the Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS. It was designed as a “market mechanism” to allocate carbon emission rights efficiently, and to send “price signals” to the market to promote energy efficiency and investment in low carbon technologies. But it’s become a dog’s breakfast.
Despite the huge administrative burden and cost of operating an emissions trading scheme, the emissions price remained too low to deliver any kind of incentive.
So despite the energy prices, the EU is devising sticking-plaster solutions to drive up energy prices further. This is madness writ large.
The ETS doesn’t need any more sticking-plaster solutions. It needs radical surgery. Or better still, euthanasia. It is time it was put out of its misery.
The threat is not merely to pricing and competitiveness. There is also a threat to security of supply. In the UK, our reserve generating capacity is down to an alarming 4%. Three years ago it stood at a comfortable 17% http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29794632.
But never mind, says the National Grid. We have a cunning plan, with two elements.
First, a contractual deal under which large energy users agree to reduce demand in challenging conditions. And second, deals with organisations which own large diesel generators, to make these available to the Grid in case of need.
Conference, you couldn’t make it up. In order to save the planet and cut CO2 emissions, our fall-back position is …. Diesel generators!
So how did we get into this mess? It’s time to name and shame the guilty men.
And of course it starts, as you would expect, in Brussels, with the Climate & Energy Package. Originally proposed by the Commission in January 2007, it involved swingeing reductions in CO2 emissions – down 20% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
They also aspire to a reduction of 40% by 2030, and have set a target of 80% by 2050 – which is only 35 years away, and would involve the almost total deindustrialisation of Europe.
We can look forward to a brave new world where every man has an acre and a cow – except that cows will be banned because of their methane emissions.
But as is traditional in these matters, we in Britain took the EU plan and gold-plated it. With indecent haste the House of Commons passed the Climate Change Act, in October 2008 – perhaps the most expensive peacetime Bill ever adopted by Westminster.
There was no thought about affordability or competitiveness. No credible impact assessment, no debate on the fundamental question whether the targets were justified, no discussion of adaptation as an alternative to mitigation.
And the man responsible for the Act is now a familiar household name, if only for his inability to eat a ham sandwich. None other than our friend Ed Miliband, who in 2008 was the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate, and steered the Bill through the Commons.
I am simply unable to think of anyone else in history who has done so much damage to our country in one single act.
The Act purports to make it a legal requirement to achieve the 80% CO2 reduction target by 2050. One has to wonder quite who will be sent to jail when the target is breached.
Miliband’s culpability doesn’t end with the Climate Change Act, egregious as that was. He has recently proposed an energy price freeze. This has had several perverse effects. First, it persuaded energy companies to hold prices higher than they need be, so that any freeze following the election would start at a higher base. Second, energy prices are now falling – so a freeze would have had the effect of maintaining prices higher than they need to be. But third and most serious, the investment climate for the new energy infrastructure, which we so desperately need, is already very difficult. Government price controls would make it virtually impossible.
Our second Guilty Man is Chris Huhne, famous for persuading his then wife to take a speeding rap for him. He’d been an MEP from 1999 to 2005 (you can’t trust those MEPs!), and Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change from 2010 to 2012. Another green obsessive.
And then we come to Ed Davey, if anything more obsessed with climate alarmism even than Huhne. Here’s a headline quote from Ed: “On-shore wind farms are essential to keep energy bills down, and the country needs more of them”. In Alice in Wonderland, the White Queen reckoned she could believe six impossible things before breakfast. Sadly, Ed Davey believes a whole lot of impossible things all the time. No Ed. It’s exactly the opposite. Wind turbines are driving up energy costs and the country needs fewer of them.
Then there’s Tim Yeo, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee, and another obsessive greenie. But at least he has the good sense to leverage his interest in green issues with well-remunerated appointments in the industry. He has reportedly earned £400,000 from green energy interests since 2009
And our rogues’ gallery wouldn’t be complete without George Osborne, and his deliberate attempt to undermine the competitiveness of British Industry with his Carbon Price Floor – although I suspect that he was motivated more by the tax revenues than by doctrinaire environmentalism.
One caveat: I expect that solar will become competitive (or as the industry puts it, it will achieve grid parity) in the next few years – although right now it’s chasing a moving target. We in UKIP are not against solar in principle. We just demand competitive pricing.
Now we don’t like to raise problems unless we can also propose solutions. And here the solutions are simple and common sense.
We need to abandon hopelessly expensive renewables. We need to exploit lower-cost energy sources, like coal, and indigenous gas. And we need to provide a reliable and consistent regulatory environment to facilitate investment in all affordable energy technologies, including nuclear.
For the General Election in May, our message on energy is simple. We’re the only party promising secure and affordable energy, to households and to industry. And we know how to deliver.