Britain’s membership of the European Union helps secure the country’s energy supply from any possible threat by Vladimir Putin’s Russia to restrict gas flows, energy minister Amber Rudd will say today (24 March).
Her comments are part of the government’s campaign to persuade UK citizens to vote to stay inside the EU in the 23 June referendum. Public opinion is evenly divided and many voters are undecided on an issue that will define the country’s future global role.
Rudd will argue in a speech that Britain’s dependence on imported gas is “not without risk” and that EU membership gives it greater negotiating power in supply disputes.
Russia provides around 30% of the EU’s gas and a single supply deal signed last year by Britain’s biggest energy supplier Centrica meant that, at the time, Russia’s Gazprom would
meet 9% of the country’s gas needs.
“We have seen how countries such as Putin’s Russia use their gas supplies as a tool of foreign policy, threatening to cut off supplies or drastically increase prices,” Rudd will say according to advance extracts of her speech.
“We can’t let our energy security be hijacked as a political pawn to bring Europe to its knees. By working together in the European Union, each member state can stop this becoming a
reality … To put it plainly – when it comes to Russian gas, united we stand, divided we fall.”
She will also say that an exit from the 28-member EU would threaten foreign investment in Britain’s energy industry.