Boris Johnson is hoping to line up main Saudi funding in British renewable power on a go to to Riyadh on Wednesday, throughout which he’ll urge the desert kingdom to extend oil manufacturing to deal with market volatility.
However forward of the journey the UK prime minister was accused by Labour chief Sir Keir Starmer of going “cap in hand from dictator to dictator” to beg for assist, arguing that Johnson ought to have put in place a extra balanced power technique years in the past.
Johnson will fly to the Center East in a single day on Tuesday for talks in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in an try and persuade the 2 nations to assist enhance power provides and stabilise markets disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The UK introduced final week that it might part out Russian oil imports by the tip of the yr.
Lord Gerry Grimstone, funding minister, has been wooing the Saudis for months over a doable sovereign funding into UK inexperienced power tasks, that are on the coronary heart of Johnson’s plan to cut back Britain’s consumption of imported oil and gasoline.
Final yr the UAE pledged to take a position £10bn in UK clear power, know-how and infrastructure; Grimstone hopes the Saudi authorities may also put cash into the sector.
One authorities insider mentioned the funding being sought can be a “huge quantity”. Downing Road confirmed “we’ll be speaking about growing renewable power capability”.
Saudi Arabia, which is the world’s high crude exporter and has been coordinating with Russia in Opec+, has been reluctant to pump extra oil through the Ukraine disaster. Johnson’s go to to the nation has been overshadowed by the execution of 81 people on terrorism-related fees on March 13.
Starmer informed the Monetary Instances: “Going cap in hand from dictator to dictator shouldn’t be an power technique. Saying we aren’t going to depend on Russia after which going to Saudi Arabia shouldn’t be an power technique.”
The opposition chief mentioned Johnson was proper to discover methods to chop folks’s power payments, however that going to Saudi Arabia wouldn’t have been essential had there been a more practical technique in place.
Starmer argued that Britain has been too gradual to develop new nuclear energy stations and that the halt within the rollout in onshore wind below the Tory authorities had additionally brought on issues.
He mentioned human rights points in Saudi Arabia had been “an actual trigger for concern” and that Labour had mentioned it might not provide arms to be used by the Saudi authorities in its conflict in Yemen. Starmer mentioned there have been additionally “actual questions” in regards to the acquisition of Newcastle United final yr by a Saudi-led consortium.
He argued that Johnson ought to give attention to extra photo voltaic and hydrogen energy and the insulation of houses, slightly than ingratiating himself with Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince.
Downing Road mentioned Johnson would elevate human rights points on his go to, whereas the prime minister’s allies hit again at Starmer, who they mentioned was not fascinated about offering Britain with jobs and power safety.
Requested by Sky Information if he was looking for assist from “disagreeable” nations akin to Saudi Arabia with a purpose to counter the menace posed by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, Johnson mentioned it was essential to “construct the widest doable coalition”.
One colleague of Johnson mentioned: “He lives in the true world the place we should flip to allies all over the world to assist us confront Putin, develop our economic system and relieve the mounting price of residing strain on our folks.”