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Addressing employees at an energy interconnector site in Kent, the Energy Secretary spoke about why staying in the European Union is vital for our long-term energy security as well as our economic security.
She referred to an independent report, commissioned by the National Grid, which finds that leaving the EU, and exiting the internal energy market, could cost consumers £500 million or more each year, saying:
The UK’s membership of the European Union has helped keep our energy bills down. If we left Europe’s internal energy market, we’d get a massive electric shock because the UK energy costs are likely to rocket by at least half a billion pounds a year – the equivalent of British bills going up by around one and a half million pounds each and every day.
She outlined the need to stand together with the rest of Europe in the face of threats to our energy supplies, ensuring that our families and businesses have the certainty of secure energy supplies that they can rely on now and in the years ahead. She said:
We have seen how countries such as Putin’s Russia use their gas supplies as a tool of foreign policy. Threatening to cut off supplies or drastically increase prices.
We can’t let our energy security be hijacked as a political pawn to bring Europe to its knees. By working together in the European Union each member state can stop this becoming a reality.
Making the case for staying in the EU is important for investment and jobs, she highlighted how in 2014, direct investment in UK utility projects from elsewhere in the EU amounted to some £45 billion. She said:
Being in the EU helps us attract billions and billions of pounds of investment in our energy system and supply chain. Taken together, this investment helps support 660,000 jobs in the UK’s energy sector. Does anybody really think all of that investment would continue if we left the EU, and with no extra costs?
Why would we want to cause worry and hardship to hundreds of thousands of families in the UK who rely on our energy industry for their livelihoods?
Amber Rudd went on to say that remaining in the EU is about our standing in the world and the impact we can have on global issues as an individual nation. She explained:
With Putin on the prowl and Daesh sharpening their swords, our unity and our shared values – of free speech, democracy and equality – are more important than ever.
Beyond these immediate dangers, there are longer term challenges that require us to work together to resolve.
Take the recent climate change conference in Paris where 200 countries came together to sign the first global climate deal ever agreed.
The global deal in Paris is in the UK’s interests, and frankly we wouldn’t have got it without being part of the EU.
I firmly believe that within our position in the EU we can influence the great geopolitical challenges of the day – to make the world a safe place for Britain.
And let’s be clear, the deal in Paris is not just about our national security, it’s also about our economic security.
The Energy Secretary concluded with a message about the future with the UK playing a central role in shaping the policies that affect us:
Our children will grow up in safer more secure world, as we play a leading role in one of the world’s largest organisations from within, helping make the decisions that affect them.
In the EU, our future is stronger and more secure, and our families and businesses are better off.