One of Ed Miliband’s most senior advisers sparked fury yesterday by saying that power blackouts would be good for the country.
Sir John Armitt argued that the blackouts would be the ‘best possible thing’ because they would bring home the scale of the energy crisis facing the country.
Sir John’s inflammatory remarks – which coincided with forecasts of the first Arctic blast of the winter – revived the fierce debate over energy prices and supplies which was triggered by Mr Miliband’s party conference pledge in October to freeze gas and electricity bills.
The Conservatives immediately lept on Sir John’s comments, claiming that blackouts would be an indictment of Mr Miliband’s failure to plan for the future when he was Energy Secretary.
Sir John, who is advising Labour on the future of the country’s long-term infrastructure needs, said: ‘In harsh political terms [blackouts] would be the best possible thing because this country is extremely good in a crisis.’
In the interview with construction industry magazine Building, he added that the UK was nearing the crisis because too little was being done to replace ageing coal-fired and nuclear power stations.
He said: ‘We are down to (just a) 4 per cent (surplus of energy capacity) because we’ve gone slower than we should have done on nuclear.’