One Of Rishi Sunak's Predecessors Has Slammed His Plan To 'Max Out' North Sea Oil

Rishi Sunak has been criticised by Theresa May.
Rishi Sunak has been criticised by Theresa May.

Rishi Sunak has been criticised by Theresa May.

Rishi Sunak has been criticised by one of his predecessors as prime minister over the government’s drive to extract more oil and gas from the North Sea.

The prime minister has said the UK will continue to award new exploration licenses every year in a bid to cut energy bills and reduce the UK’s reliance on imported fuel from abroad.

Speaking July, he said: “My view is we should max out the opportunities that we have here in the North Sea, because that’s good for our energy security.”

The policy is also an attempt to draw a dividing line with Labour, which has said it will stop issuing new oil and gas licenses if it wins the next election.

But speaking ahead of the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai, Theresa May - who was PM when the government set a target of achieving net zero by 20250 - criticised Sunak.

She said: “I take a different view from the government on the oil and gas licences. This is about [a] phase-out and, ultimately, that is what it has to be about in terms of fossil fuels.”

May also called into question Sunak’s claim that further North Sea exploration will make the UK more self-sufficient when it comes to energy.

“Obviously, energy security for us is important but … new oil and gas licences only provide for energy security if all that energy is sold into the UK and, actually, it will be sold on the world market, so I think there are some questions around that.”

A spokesperson for the department for energy security and net zero told The Times: “We are and will continue to be world leaders in clean energy, having cut emissions faster than any other major country and set into law one of the most ambitious emissions targets in the world.

“At Cop28 we will be working to triple global renewable energy deployment and double energy efficiency by 2030, alongside a clear commitment on phasing out unabated fossil fuels, which we pressed hard for earlier this year at the G7 summit.”