Labour's Rebecca Long-Bailey on why she fears key manifesto pledge could be quietly dropped
Shadow Business Secretary says she was unconvinced by the Tories' manifesto vow to cap bills - and now it's in danger of being axed
Staggeringly, in one of the richest nations in the world, more than 4 million people are living in fuel poverty across Britain.
Ofgem confirmed recently that energy bills account for 10% of spending in the poorest households, compared with just 5.5% in 2004.
So imagine my surprise when the Theresa May called for Labour’s energy price cap to be implemented during her general election campaign.
In the run-up to the 2015 election her party had attacked Labour’s price cap policy as “extremely dangerous” and coming from a “Marxist Universe”.
Yet there she stood in 2017, a ‘born again price cap convert’.
Historically, if you’re a Big Six energy company then the Government’s bark is worse than its bite.
So I was decidedly unconvinced of this apparent ‘road to Damascus’ style conversion by Theresa May.
Fast forward to the present time and it seems that the Tories are back to business as usual.
Various media outlets reported recently that Senior Cabinet members and the Big Six energy companies were ‘lobbying’ for the Conservative Price Cap Manifesto commitment to be dropped.
Clearly their chosen election gimmick didn’t win them the majority they so craved, so why should they carry on pretending to care about struggling households and businesses?
The much heralded post-election letter of manifesto demands from Business Secretary Greg Clark to Ofgem simply asked for details of the action Ofgem intends to take in relation to safeguarding those on poor value tariffs.
Somewhat deliberately silent, it seems, on the big price cap issue.
Suspicions were compounded further last week when Prime Minister ‘refused’ to confirm ‘unambiguously’ that the price cap would be upheld when questioned during her Queen's Speech contribution.
Today in this sea of ambiguity, I asked Mr Clark across the floor of Parliament whether ‘he’ would implement the promised price cap - to deliver 17million customers the £100 savings his Prime Minister promised.
To this he could simply have said ‘yes’.
Instead, after an awkward interlude where he praised Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity at Glastonbury, he spoke around this issue but made no commitment to his party’s price cap manifesto promise.
It would appear therefore that there has indeed been a significant U-turn of the Tory party position.
This suggests a weak Prime Minister who is unable to push through her own commitments - and that the recent speculation in the media that the Big Six energy firms are lobbying for watered down commitments seem to be well founded.
The Tory party is once again surrendering to big energy business interests at the expense of real people who are suffering with rising energy bills.
They’ve proven to bill payers across the country that they cannot be trusted and that they cannot deliver.