'Britons know there will be tax on electric cars when the loss of petrol tax becomes too great - it's a CON!' - John Redwood

John Redwood in pictures and photo of electric car being charged

Sir John Redwood was formerly the Conservative MP for Wokingham

John Redwood

By John Redwood

Published: 09/06/2024

- 05:00

Sir John Redwood, most recently the Conservative MP for Wokingham, shares his thoughts on net zero, electric cars and national security

The General Election should also be a referendum on net zero. There is a big gap between what the main parties say we have to do and what people are willing to do.

Whilst many voters want to be green, they do not think buying an expensive battery car they do not want will help, especially when on low wind days it will be recharged with electricity from a fossil fuel power station!

They do not want a dearer car with limited range, trouble with recharging away from home and a shock when you find out the price of electricity at a fast charger.

They all know there will be taxes on using electric cars as soon as the loss of petrol and diesel tax becomes too great. The parties are all keeping quiet about how they will replace all that tax revenue should they force us to buy large numbers of battery cars.

The public is also smarter than the Labour and Lib Dem parties when it comes to where we get our energy. They think importing oil, gas or electricity from fossil fuels is mad when we could produce our own.

Home production lowers the amount of carbon dioxide in the world, delivers us well-paid jobs and plenty of extra tax revenue. Importing energy to shift where the carbon is said to come from helps the exporters to us and gives the world more CO2.

No wonder our balance of payments is so poor as we import far too much dear energy. Why rely on the goodwill of foreigners to keep the lights on? How do we earn all the foreign currency to pay the bills?

The public is certainly not rushing out to buy heat pumps. They are far too dear. They turn the home upside down to install them and may not be very effective at keeping you warm if you have an older house. The gas boiler is far cheaper and more effective. Why not see if we can produce low carbon gas as industry works away at synthetic fuels?

The digital revolution sweeps on. People rush out to buy smartphones, laptops and iPads, and to take out broadband contracts, entertainment download services and the rest. We do so willingly with our own money because they are products and services people like and want.

There are no government targets to sell more, no taxes on selling the wrong things, and no subsidies to get the market moving. So why do we have all that panoply of expensive and damaging government interference on personal travel; and home heating? Why do governments think it will work? Isn't it wrong to impose a tax on our own motor industry selling us too many petrol cars when people want to buy them?

We also need to worry about national security. China has cornered the market in solar panels, turbines, batteries, cheaper electric vehicles and the special minerals and components to make them. The idea that the government needs to close down making things at home to save CO2, only to import Chinese goods with even more CO2 involved in their making and transporting is dangerous.

This election is a great chance for the voters to tell the politicians to be sensible. Work with the grain of business in developing products and services we want to buy, and listen to consumers about the affordability and desirability of the green products so far.

Follow the path of the digital revolution with better green products and it will happen without demanding money from taxpayers and without instructing people how to live. Go the net zero top-down route and there will be plenty of unhappy voters, many reluctant consumers and a huge bill for taxpayers. Some councils like Bristol and Nottingham have already cost taxpayers a small fortune for their loss-making investment in energy. The government often does not know best.

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