Labour's Emily Thornberry MP grilled on windfall tax policy

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The Labour frontbencher took to the airwaves on Wednesday to defend her party’s position on taxing the mega-profits of Britain’s largest oil and gas companies. Emily Thornberry was pressed on Sky News for a more definite answer around how much Labour hoped to raise through the windfall tax levy. 

Asked how Labour expected to raise from a windfall tax, Ms Thornberry told Sky News: “What we were saying was that the reason that we kept it to six months is because things change so much.

“So our suggested package was one that was fully costed and was costing the way that I was I was in the process of explaining and it would then run out and we would then have to look again, at the numbers how much was were energy prices at that point, what additional profits were energy companies making and then put together another package.

“What this government is trying to do, what they want to do….”

“You’ll forgive me Emily Thornberry I feel like you’re giving me 30 percent of an answer,” interrupted the Sky News host.

“I’m trying to get an overall figure because you can’t just say a windfall tax is an answer without having some idea.

“You’ve given me a timeframe from January up until now or the end of the year. You must have an idea of how much that would bring in and if that would make any difference to the left to the scale of crisis families and businesses are facing at the moment.

“The numbers that we were talking about were less than the Conservatives were talking about, we think the Conservatives are talking about because they are talking about a longer period of time, they’re talking about 18 months, and as was for a shorter period of time,” defended the former shadow Foreign Secretary. 

It comes as Prime Minister Liz Truss ruled out plans to impose a windfall tax on energy producers, with borrowing instead set to increase to fund the costly intervention.

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Truss, appointed prime minister on Tuesday, has vowed immediate action to address one of the most daunting sets of challenges for an incoming leader in post-war history including soaring energy bills, a looming recession, and industrial strife.

She chaired a meeting of her new cabinet on Wednesday before making her parliamentary debut as Conservative Party leader, going head-to-head with opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer in the high-profile Prime Minister’s Questions.

“I am against a windfall tax. I believe it is the wrong thing to be putting companies off investing in the United Kingdom,” Ms Truss told lawmakers, adding she would announce more details on Thursday.

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New finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng told business leaders that borrowing would be higher in the short term to provide support for households and businesses.

Investors have expressed alarm at the scale of extra borrowing that the government will probably need to undertake to fund its support scheme and the tax cuts promised by Truss during her leadership campaign.

The pound sank to two-and-a-half-year lows against the dollar this month while long-dated British government debt fell on Tuesday by the most since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to a recent slump.

Bank of England officials told lawmakers that Truss’s plans could help to slow Britain’s surging inflation, but it was too soon to say what the implications for interest rates would be.

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