Rachel Reeves presented Labour’s case during the House of Commons opposition day debate where the party is seeking to “cut the rate of VAT for household energy bills as soon as possible”. Labour hope the Government will remove VAT on the bills for a year and introduce a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers as the country feels the squeeze of inflation. But backbencher Gary Sambrook took an opportunity to dig at the opposition benches and said the proposals from Labour went against some within the party who want to rejoin the European Union – meaning the VAT cuts could not happen.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Reeves began her proposal by calling for VAT on household energy bills to be slashed to 0 percent for a year from February 1.
Ms Reeves gave way to Mr Sambrook who said: “I thank the honourable member for giving way.
“The Labour Party spent the last six years campaigning against the very ability to do what they want to do, which is Brexit.
“Which is the only reason why they are able to do what they want to do today.
“So won’t you be honest with the House and say in her heart of hearts, if she really wanted to go back into the European Union the one measure they are proposing wouldn’t be possible, would it?”
Ms Reeves brushed off the criticisms and said Labour was trying to make Brexit work, echoing the words of leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Later on in her proposals, Ms Reeves attacked Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak for not attending her opposition day speech to try and fix the energy bill crisis.
The Labour frontbencher also addressed the Downing Street lockdown parties and wondered what Mr Sunak’s role in that was.
She said: “Now the Prime Minister has a chance to actually do something and he and his Chancellor say no.
“But the problem is you can’t pay bills on broken promises.
“Speaking of the Chancellor, yet again, he’s in hiding, he wasn’t here yesterday when we debated fiscal responsibility, he’s not here today to debate the cost of living.
“Maybe he’s gone back to California. Had he been here, I wouldn’t have just asked him about his broken promises on VAT, I would also have asked given that the Chancellor of the Exchequer lives and works next door to No10 Downing Street.
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“How long has he known about the party on the 20th of May 2020? And what has he said or done about this disgraceful breach of lockdown rules?”
Ms Reeves then queried whether Mr Sunak was “at the party” or “was he at his window taking the pictures”.
Energy prices have increased in the UK which has made several large energy suppliers go bust due to spiralling costs.
A combination of reduced natural gas stockpiles, political wrangling with Russia and colder winters have pushed the price of natural gas up.
Ofgem reports that VAT only makes up five percent of energy bill costs with wholesale costs and network costs making up 34.6 percent and 25.3 percent respectively.