Blackford: Westminster must ‘nurse’ businesses through energy crisis

The UK Government needs to “nurse” businesses through the energy crisis by providing support, the SNP’s Westminster leader has said.

Ian Blackford compared comments made by UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng playing down the possibility of extra help for business to Margaret Thatcher, and warned that a lack of support will affect everyone. 

Mr Kwarteng shied away from committing to extra support for firms when asked this morning by Andrew Marr.

He said the government was “looking to find a solution” when asked if ht was going to give extra help to energy-intensive industries.

However when he was told that sounded like a ‘yes’, he said: “No, that doesn’t sound like yes at all. We already have existing support and we’re looking to see if that’s sufficient to get us through this situation.”

“I’ve been very clear we’re not going to bail out failing energy suppliers.”.

He said he had been in discussions with the Treasury about the situation, however Treasury sources have since denied any such meetings have taken place. 

Mr Blackford, when told about Mr Kwarteng’s comments, said: “This is like Thatcher all over again, isn’t it?”.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, the SNP MP said: “Government has to recognise it has a responsibility to nurse businesses through this, to provide short-term support.

“If we end up in a situation, for example, where steel production stops in west central Scotland that helps nobody.

“So we’ve got to make sure that companies have got the assistance they need in the short term while we get through this.

“If not, we’re all going to pay a price because we’re going to end up with higher unemployment, we’re going to end up with supply constraints; we’re ending up in a situation, by the way – and the real worry I have out of this – is that inflation is now increasing.

“The Bank of England and the Government have been slow to react to this; we’re now seeing wage inflation – in fact the Prime Minister is encouraging wage inflation. That runs the risk that we end up with higher inflation for longer and the consequences of all of that.

“It is a serious problem.”

Asked if the Scottish Government would provide support, he said that energy policy was reserved but the Scottish government would do all it could to help. 

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992