Brexit threatens UK energy security, says minister

Amber Rudd claims leaving the EU would hike costs for consumers, weaken energy security and choke off investment

UK energy and climate change minister Amber Rudd

UK energy and climate change minister Amber Rudd says Brexit would make the UK vulnerable to Vladimir Putin’s Russia (Flickr/DECC)

By Megan Darby

The UK’s energy and climate change secretary is set to argue on Thursday that leaving the EU would harm Britain’s energy security.

Amber Rudd will say on a visit to the site of an energy interconnector with France that Britain’s energy supplies are safer as a member of the bloc.

Russia, under Vladimir Putin, uses gas supplies as a tool of foreign policy, she is expected to tell employees. A united Europe has bargaining power to bring down the cost of alternatives.

“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,” she says in pre-released excerpts of her speech.

“As a bloc of 500 million people we have the power to force Putin’s hand. We can coordinate our response to a crisis.”

Brexit would increase the country’s energy bill by £500 million (US$700m) a year and threaten £45 billion ($63bn) of inward investment in utilities, she claims.

It is the Conservative minister’s most forceful intervention yet on the referendum scheduled for 23 June, which has divided her party.

The majority of cabinet is siding with prime minister David Cameron in the campaign to keep Britain in Europe, but nearly half of backbench MPs want out.

An ICM poll published on Wednesday showed “out” taking a 2 percentage point lead, Reuters reported.

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