Rudd in the ring
Under pressure but not out for the count, the Energy Secretary lives to fight another day. During a difficult appearance before the Energy and Climate Change Committee yesterday, Amber Rudd pushed back when quizzed about reports she had misled the House about whether Britain would meet its EU renewable targets. While ECCC Chair Angus MacNeil did all he could to put her on the spot, Rudd’s defence – that she was talking about a power sector target rather than an overarching one – went largely unchallenged.
Rudd’s bid to shut down the row over the targets was aided in part by the broader political agenda, with eyes firmly fixed on David Cameron’s proposals to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership. Conservative MPs – one of the most important groups Rudd must keep on side - were far more interested in picking apart their leader’s approach to Brussels than in a mid-ranking Cabinet minister’s difficulties. It probably also didn’t hurt that the live video of the Committee meeting failed for much of Rudd’s appearance, making it difficult for energy reporters to follow developments.
However, Rudd cannot rest easy just yet. Labour signalled its intent to pursue her on the issue, and Shadow Energy Secretary Lisa Nandy is likely to return to it at the next DECC questions. Rudd also appears to facing dissent on renewables from within the Cabinet itself, with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond talking up the need for a low carbon economy at an event in the US yesterday. The Energy Secretary may have won the battle, but the war is far from over.