Liz Truss has said the soaring energy bills faced by Britons this winter and beyond are a “price worth paying” to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia and help secure the UK’s long-term security.
The prime minister also insisted she would not be telling the public to ration their energy use this winter, despite the Russian president Vladimir Putin limiting gas supplies to Europe.
The UK and EU allies have been seeking to divest from Russia’s fossil fuels, and Mr Putin has ratcheted up the pain as he turns the taps off on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Ms Truss told reporters travelling with her to a United Nations summit in New York that the UK “cannot jeopardise our security for the sake of cheap energy”.
The PM said: “The point I’m the point that I’m making is that it’s a price worth paying for Britain, because our long-term security is paramount.”
She added: “But what I don’t want to happen is that to be passed on to bill-payers who beyond that energy guarantee that I’ve outlined because I don’t think that’s right.”
Ms Truss’s energy price guarantee, at the estimated cost of £100bn, will prevent annual household bills rising past £2,500, but many are already struggling with gas and electricity prices after they rose earlier this year.
French president Emmanuel Macron has urged a 10 per cent cut in energy usage in the coming months, while the EU has asked member states to lower consumption this winter.
But Ms Truss is leaving it up to consumers to choose whether they want to go easy on heating and other power usage in the difficult months to come. “No, we are not talking about rationing of energy,” she said.
The PM said: “Of course, I always support energy efficiency measures like home insulation, that makes sense, and energy prices are higher than they were.”
“There is a strong incentive for businesses and households to invest in energy efficiency, but we do have reliable supplies of energy but ultimately everyone makes their own decisions about how they decide to do those things,” she added.
Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg will set out the government’s plan to offer the UK’s firms “equivalent support” with energy bills on Wednesday.
The business support scheme could reportedly take the form of a blanket discount on energy bills, with a fixed reduction to the rate they currently pay per kilowatt hour.
This would differ somewhat from the plan for households, whereby the price suppliers can charge customers for units of gas or electricity will be capped by the government.
Ms Truss conceded that not all her policies will be “popular” as her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng prepares to lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses on Friday while millions feel the squeeze of the cost-of-living crisis.
The PM defended measures to swell “the size of the pie” as she struck out those with “vested interests” who will oppose her policies aimed at boosting economic growth.