One thing that could seal the Government’s fate would be power blackouts this winter. No administration can preside over the lights going out and survive at the subsequent election, as Edward Heath discovered in 1974.
The National Grid had been expected to activate an emergency scheme offering households discounts on their bills if they used less energy. In the event, the announcement was postponed, with the Grid more hopeful of being able to avoid power cuts, though it is not clear how long this will last.
One problem is the lack of wind to power generators, while at the same time the country faces uncertainty over the supply of electricity from France through the interconnector. The Grid relies on EDF for winter energy from its 50 or so nuclear reactors, but many of these have been offline for maintenance and are ageing in any case. France is also facing the same energy supply issuescaused by the Ukraine war.
This, then, is the upshot of more than 30 years of Britain’s botched energy strategy. We are importing energy because we failed to invest in new nuclear plants, closed our coal mines, turned our back on home-produced gas, and moved to a renewable energy source that does not function on calm days.
If the coming winter is colder than usual, it will invariably be anti-cyclonic, which will mean light winds. Furthermore, it will be colder in Europe than here, making it harder for continental countries to send energy to the UK.