Analysis: Tory infighting nothing new in energy crisis that isn’t going away

Britain is in the midst of an energy crisis, so naturally UK government departments are caught up in a war of words with each other.

This weekend saw the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng try to reassure the public by saying he was in discussions with the treasury and Rishi Sunak about helping the industry.

His assurances lasted less than 24 hours, with a Treasury source immediately slapping his claims down and adding “this is not the first time the [business] secretary has made things up in interviews”.

This then led to the surreal scenes of Home Office minister Damian Hinds dismissing the Treasury response as coming from “unnamed sources”, as if that wasn’t something used by politicians every day.

Ministers are facing calls to continue talks with industry bosses in a bid to stop firms going to the wall amid rising energy costs.

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Not giving a name allows them to try and get their own house in order without being seen as publicly fighting.

Everyone clashes with the Treasury, and the dismissal gives them a little longer to come up with a response.

It is not dissimilar to when the leader of the Scottish Tories Douglas Ross claimed furlough was being extended for Scotland in the same way it was in England.

The Treasury initially denied this, only confirming it at the last second.

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With a department so desperate for savings it will do everything from cutting the aid budget to looking for pennies behind the sofa, nothing is official until it is announced by them.

It may seem unprofessional, unorganised, and slightly alarming that departments publicly fight like this, but in reality it is just the nature of Government.

Some in the industry believe the current price surge is a temporary problem caused by coronavirus, but others worry it’s a structural weakness with Europe too reliant on imported gas.

As such, ministers are unwilling to commit to something too soon when they fear this is a situation that could last months.

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Jobs are at risk, but ahead of a spending review in a fortnight's time Mr Sunak will want as much wiggle room as possible.

As it is, a plan has indeed been submitted to the Treasury after talks between ministers and industry leaders today.

The spat is just noise. Help has been asked for, for how long it’s required remains to be seen.

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