Late last month, Rishi Sunak announced a five year delay to the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. So how have Labour responded?
The Tory party want to be seen as the motorists’ friend. In September Mr Sunak announced that he was “slamming the breaks on anti-motorist” measures. He clearly wants motoring to be a dividing line in the next general election which is at most a little over a year away. Amongst other road related pledges he promised to deliver, “smoother journeys”, to stop “unfair enforcement”, provide “easier parking” along with a crackdown “on inconsiderate driving.”
The delay to the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars was one of several changes to key green policies that have formed the government’s approach to hitting its 2050 net zero target. The ban will now not come into force until 2035. The prime minister said the delay would save households thousands of pounds. He argued that in the current economic climate the government could not place British families under an even greater financial burden due to the “unacceptable costs” of emission reductions. He claimed that by moving too fast on environmental policies “the consent of the British people” could be lost.
However, Labour have been unequivocal in committing to keeping the 2030 date. Should Labour be successful in the next general election they will amend the timeframe for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars back to 2030. Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds confirmed to the Financial Times that the party would reinstate the deadline very soon after coming to power.
Reynolds argued that this would provide ‘certainty’ for the car industry. The government is retaining high quotas of zero emission car sales with its “ZEV mandate”. He feels this is leaving carmakers ‘in limbo’. Reynolds stated, ‘The Tory government has been undermining international investment by chopping and changing… the endless stop-start of government policy has left the British automotive industry stalled’. He explained that in his view the UK car industry wants the 2030 date. With the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the UK’s leading vehicle producers being “clear on that’ position.
Reynolds also disagreed that the delay will save families money. His logic being that EVs ‘have cheaper lifetime costs’ than petrols and the current higher purchase prices for electric cars (compared to their fossil fuelled equivalents) are expected to reduce in the coming years. The Labour party would also take action on electric infrastructure. They would introduce binding targets for councils to install the necessary EV charging points. Planning rules would be loosened to assist with their implementation.
Labour continue to enjoy a commanding lead in the polls. Whether the Prime Minister’s motorist friendly policies will alter that remains to be seen?