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Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Net Zero and mass immigration – the case for Reform

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AS SIR Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos observed recently, Europe is ‘sleepwalking towards offshoring its industry, jobs, investments and emissions’, reflecting a reality that is being wilfully ignored in Westminster. We all want, and need, a sustainable environment. But any environmental benefits of Net Zero will be illusory if we merely cede our industry, manufacturing and emissions to China, India and elsewhere – countries which have no comparable carbon policy – only to reimport our emissions through imported goods.  

In the past 20 years, UK carbon emissions have fallen by more than a third, to just 1 per cent of the global total, while China’s have tripled to 30 per cent of the total.  Over the same period, China’s economy has grown tenfold – by approximately 1,000 per cent – while Britain’s has grown just 30 per cent. The scale of China’s growth, and Britain’s stagnation, is staggering. Handing growth, jobs, and prosperity to competitors who do not share our environmental objectives or our belief in democracy is a gross act of self-harm.  

Gas in Europe is five times more expensive than in America, and electricity four times the price. Why? The shale gas revolution in America (fracking), which began some 20 years ago, has transformed it from one of the largest importers of gas in the world to the largest exporter. Britain is similarly blessed with rich natural energy resources, and we must invest to develop them now after more than a decade of underinvestment. New technologies mean we can extract these commodities safely in a cleaner, cheaper way than ever before. And cheap energy is a moral as well as an economic imperative, because only cheap and abundant energy can enable the developed world to maintain its prosperity while simultaneously enabling the developing world to grow and eliminate poverty. The Net Zero zealots are not on the side of the angels, for the situation is more complex than they know or will admit.  

Only nuclear power can fulfil our energy and carbon objectives in the longer term, while shale gas can bridge the gap as we build our nuclear capacity. Wind energy in the UK is already at full capacity. This is because it cannot be stored for the grid’s base load, while fossil fuels can. With successive Conservative and Labour governments having failed to grasp the nettle and invest in nuclear, upgrading our nuclear industry will be a multi-decade transition, and one we must urgently start now.   

In terms of energy security, Russia’s weaponising of gas supplies during the war on Ukraine makes it clearer than ever that Britain must embrace shale gas production to bridge the transition to cleaner energy.  

No less important to Reform’s agenda is returning financial and social stability to Britain. High tax and regulations are killing our freedoms, our businesses, and our prosperity. We are also living beyond our means as a nation, with spending persistently exceeding tax receipts. The resultant debt is our children’s burden, as well as ours, and threatens inflation and financial stability down the road.  

This is the political, economic and moral case for Reform. Similarly, our policy on immigration is underpinned by a respect for the dignity of British citizens that is not shared by Labour or the Conservatives. Although published by the Office for National Statistics, it is a little-known fact that gross immigration into the UK in the past two years has exceeded 2million people. Offsetting that, around a million left, but people leaving Britain en masse is clearly not a good sign, and the net influx over the period was some 1.1million, a population increase equal to that of Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city, in just two years. The Net Zero lobby like to talk about sustainability, but what could be more unsustainable than mass immigration on anything like this scale? It puts immense strain on our public services, infrastructure and housing, and is the opposite of what the electorate decided when they voted for Brexit. Mass immigration is anti-democratic, and it is wrong.  

Labour and the Conservatives are both trapped in a low growth, high tax paradigm, just as Britain’s prime ministers Heath, Wilson and Callaghan were in the 1970s. Their social policies are morally dubious, while their economic policies are unquestionably harmful. Labour and the Conservatives have become two sides of the same coin. A vote for them is a vote for more of the same, and for continued decline. Only Reform UK has the policies which can turn this around. If like millions of other Britons you want change, vote for it. Britain’s best days lie ahead, but only if we have the courage to accept the reality of the world as it is, and to make the changes needed to make Britain strong and prosperous once again. 

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Richard Tice
Richard Tice
Richard Tice is Leader of Reform UK (formerly known as the Brexit Party).

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