The PM will use the pomp and ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament to bring forward legislation ‘mandating’ an annual regime for licensing new drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea.
The measure – intended to ‘safeguard the prosperity of our country’ – will underscore a key dividing line with Labour.
Insiders say tough moves on crime and justice in the package, almost certainly the last before a general election, will also force Sir Keir to make ‘tough choices’.
King Charles is set to open Parliament for the first time as monarch tomorrow – and it will be the first time since 1950 that a King has presided at the event.
Rishi Sunak will lay a host of traps for Keir Starmer on issues such as Net Zero and crime in the King’s Speech tomorrow
Insiders say tough moves on crime and justice in the package, almost certainly the last before a general election, will also force Sir Keir (pictured today) to make ‘tough choices’
King Charles (pictured with Queen Camilla on a visit to Kenya last week) is set to open Parliament for the first time as monarch tomorrow – and it will be the first time since 1950 that a King has presided at the event
A government source said the North Sea plan would ‘bolster energy security, reducing reliance on imports from hostile foreign regimes such as Russia‘ and ‘leaving us less exposed to unpredictable international forces’.
Tory strategists believe the proposals will cause Labour trouble by highlighting Sir Keir‘s controversial pledge to ban new exploration, as well as helping support 200,000 jobs and bringing in tax revenues.
The pledge to switch to 100 per cent ‘clean energy’ by 2030 has led to warnings that the UK will become increasingly dependent on oil and gas imports from abroad, which have a higher carbon footprint due to transportation and production factors.
It has also led to tensions with trade union leaders who warn that running down the North Sea could put up to 200,000 jobs at risk and damage the economy.
Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho said it was ‘common sense’ to try to meet demand for fossil fuels from domestic sources rather than ‘importing dirtier fuels’.
However, Labour seized on what it described as a ‘stunning admission’ that the licences will not necessarily bring down costs for struggling Brits.
‘It wouldn’t necessarily bring energy bills down, that’s not what we’re saying,’ Ms Coutinho told BBC Breakfast.
‘But it would, as I say, raise a significant amount of money that would help us, for example, fund public services, also fund transition into different forms of energy, for example, things like offshore wind and solar energy which more broadly and indirectly could help bring bills down.’
There are expected to be around 20 bills in the legislative package, with crime and justice, housing market reform and phasing out cigarette sales in England likely to be among the highlights.
Measures are set to include more powers for police and councils to tackle rough sleeping, including cracking down on homeless people’s tents.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been embroiled in a row after saying that homelessness can be a ‘lifestyle choice’, with Ms Coutinho saying this morning she would not have used the same language.
Mr Sunak visited the Bacton Gas Terminal in north Norfolk this morning
Beefing up search powers for police hunting stolen phones, and leasehold and rental market reforms are also due to feature.
Each annual licensing round will only take place if key tests are met that support the transition to Net Zero.
That includes the UK being projected to import more oil and gas from other countries than it produces at home, and that carbon emissions associated with the production of UK gas are lower than the equivalent emissions from imported liquefied natural gas.
If both tests are met, the NSTA will be required to invite applications for new licences annually.
Mr Sunak said: ‘I am proud that the UK is a world leader in reducing emissions, and of our new plan to transition to net zero without adding undue burdens on households and securing the country’s long-term interest.
‘Domestic energy will play a crucial role in the transition to net zero, supporting jobs and economic growth, while also protecting us from the volatility of international markets and diversifying our energy sources. The clarity and certainty that our new legislation will provide will help get the country on the right path for the future.’