Statements from Downing Street have sent chills across Britain.
While most European capitals are urging their citizens to save energy, this is not the case with British Prime Minister Liz Truss and her team, who reiterate that the country’s energy supply is sufficient to see through the winter.
A message that contrasts with that of the head of the British electricity grid. In a report published Thursday National Grid warns that in the event of a stop to gas imports from Europe combined with insufficient local production, power cuts of 3 hours in a row could be introduced. It was enough to panic the country and the British press, which has bad memories of the blackouts of the 1970s.
Friday, the word “blackout“, or widespread blackout, was printed on the front page of the entire British press.”Everything will be fine, but we are preparing for everything“, wanted to reassure Friday Graham Stuart, Secretary of State for Climate, on the Sky News channel.
Asked whether Britons should be encouraged to save energy, Mr Stuart replied that the Government “do not send this message“. Some people might prefer”take a shower than a bath because it can lower their bill (…), but it has no impact on our energy security“, he reasoned.
Mr. Stuart did not want to confirm the information from Times Friday claimed an energy-saving incentive campaign had been drawn up by Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg and then rejected by Liz Truss at the last minute.
In particular, the campaign would have suggested that Britons lower the temperature of boilers, radiators in empty rooms or homes in the event of absence with the prospect of lower bills.
The British government nevertheless admits that this winter holds more risks than previous ones. But also reminds that the country is not dependent on Russian gas and produces almost half of its gas consumption.
Britain is not a “nanny state”
Liz Truss is part of a Conservative tradition of less government intervention. “I will not tell you what to do, what to think or how to live your life“, she claimed at her party’s congress in Birmingham a few days ago.
“We are not a nanny state” Mr Stuart added on LBC on Friday.
Elsewhere, from Belgium to Greece to Germany, governments have planned to turn off highway lights or illuminated billboards at night this winter.
In a context of scarce gas supplies from Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine, the International Energy Agency reminds that energy-saving measures in Europe will be “crucial” this winter.