The Times - UK (2022-01-24)

(Antfer) #1

Ministers have been warned that they
will have to contend with record-break-
ing gas and petrol prices in the event of
a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Senior government officials expect
Russia to “weaponise” its natural
resources by restricting supplies of gas
to Europe if the West carries out its
threat to impose sanctions.
Ministers have been involved in top-
level discussions to assess the impact
that a reduced supply of gas from
Russia would have on prices in Britain.
The senior officials say that there is
no direct risk of gas shortages, but the
conflict would push prices from the
present historic highs to new record
levels. “Unlike some countries the UK
hardly imports any Russian gas,” one
official said. “But like all countries we
are exposed to rising wholesale prices,
which would be a significant issue if
Russia further restricted supply.”
About half of British gas supplies
come from the North Sea and a third
through pipelines from Norway. The
remainder consists almost entirely of
imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG),
which arrive in Britain by sea.
The fear is that LNG supplies in
particular could be subject to huge
increases in price as they are sold to the
highest bidder, with ships even chang-


Oliver Wright Policy Editor
Emily Gosden Energy Editor
Henry Zeffman


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Fears mount


Russia will


weaponise


gas supplies


ing direction to sell to the most profit-
able markets.
Other European countries are far
more dependent than Britain on Rus-
sian gas. About 40 per cent of Ger-
many’s supplies come from Russia
while countries such as Sweden and
Finland are almost entirely reliant.
The warnings came as Dominic
Raab, the deputy prime minister, ac-
knowledged the “very significant” risk
of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and
threatened economic sanctions in
response. “The world needs to keep its
eye on this and be very clear with Presi-
dent Putin that it would not do this
cost-free, that there would be a price,”
he told the BBC yesterday.
“A price in terms of the strenuous
defence that we would expect the
Ukrainians to put up, but also the eco-
nomic cost through sanctions, which
are of course more effective if the inter-
national community speaks as one or at
least with a broad consensus.”
His comments followed a highly
unusual statement from Liz Truss, the
foreign secretary, who released details
of an alleged Kremlin plot to install a
puppet leadership in Kiev.
Truss’s claims triggered an angry
reaction from Moscow and mockery
from Yevhen Murayev, a former
Ukrainian MP who MI6 suggested
could become Ukraine’s president.
Murayev said that Britain’s spy agency
Continued on page 4, col 3

Johnson still believes he broke no rules


Henry Zeffman
Chief Political Correspondent

Boris Johnson is “determined” to fight
on and still does not believe that he
broke any lockdown rules as he braces
himself for Sue Gray’s imminent
verdict on parties in Downing Street.
The senior civil servant’s report on a
series of allegations about rule-break-
ing in Downing Street during periods of
severe coronavirus restrictions is
expected to be published this week.
It could prove decisive in determin-
ing the fate of Johnson’s faltering
premiership, and he is drawing up plans
to “own the narrative” afterwards. The
vast majority of Britons have already

made up their minds about the allega-
tions, regardless of what the report
says, polling for The Times has found.
Johnson, who faced allegations yes-
terday that he had not taken seriously
the case of Nusrat Ghani, who was told
she was dismissed as a minister because
of her Muslim faith, spent the weekend
making calls to Tory MPs trying to
shore up support before Gray’s findings.
“He’s feeling determined,” one loyal
MP said. “He genuinely believes that he
didn’t break any rules and that he was
going to the garden [on May 20, 2020]
to say thank you.”
Even Johnson’s allies accept that
Gray’s report is likely to make a series of
damaging claims about the conduct of

people working in Downing Street at
the height of the pandemic.
The prime minister’s inner circle —
recently bolstered by the return of the
MPs who masterminded his 2019 lead-
ership campaign — is preparing to
argue that whatever Gray’s findings it
would be “disproportionate” for him to
resign. “Clearly there was a culture and
Continued on page 4, col 3

Warning of record UK bills if Ukraine is invaded


Emotional visit The Queen arriving at Sandringham yesterday, where she will visit Wood Farm for the first time since the
death of the Duke of Edinburgh last year. The estate’s cottage was Philip’s home after he retired from public duties. Page 5

Monday January 24 2022 | thetimes.co.uk | No 73688 2G

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