Rishi Sunak refuses to give guarantee on future of Grangemouth

The Prime Minister was questioned by STV News over whether he would step in to help save the hundreds of Scottish jobs at risk.

Rishi Sunak has refused to give any guarantees over the future of Scotland’s last-remaining oil refinery.

Questioned by STV News during a trip to Angus, the Prime Minister said the UK Government was in contact with the Scottish Government to support the Grangemouth workers at risk.

But he would not say whether he would intervene to save the Falkirk plant.

Around 400 jobs are expected to go when refining operations cease at the site, which provides around 70% of the fuel to Scotland’s filling stations.

Owners Petroineos said the refinery will operate as normal until at least spring 2025 but it will then begin transitioning to an oil import terminal.

The firm said the refinery is “highly inefficient” and cannot continue to run at a loss.

Rishi Sunak said the UK and Scottish governments are in talks to help the up to 400 workers impacted by the planned closure of the site.Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

Asked what action he would take to keep the refinery open, Sunak told STV News: “I know it will be a concerning time for all the workers at the refinery.

“And we’re talking to the Scottish Government to talk through the long-term future of the site. Obviously, the initial decision was a commercial decision for the owners.”

The Conservative Party leader was asked whether he would change UK regulations to allow Grangemouth to transition to a biofuel refinery.

“As I said, it’s a commercial decision for the owners of the refinery,” he said.

Sunak said his party remained the only one supporting Scotland’s oil and gas industry in the north east.

“You’ve got the Labour Party who want to ban North Sea oil and gas,” he said. “The SNP who have not supported the industry at all.

“In contrast, we are making sure there are annual licensing rounds.

“We’ve been unequivocal that’s an important part of our future in the transition. It’s good for energy security, good for our economy and it’s good for British, including Scottish, jobs.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver the UK budget next week.Dan Kitwood / Staff via Getty Images

During his trip to Montrose, the Prime Minister was also asked whether any tax cuts in the chancellor’s budget next week could mean less money for public services coming to Scotland.

He said: “Scotland is already receiving a record block grant of £41bn – more money for Scotland in the last two fiscal events.

“There’s a record amount of money coming from the UK Government to Scotland.

“On top of that the UK Government is investing directly in Scotland in local communities across the nation, whether that’s the new ferries in Fair Isle, whether that’s in Aberdeen itself in the city centre, or indeed the new freeports that we’ve created that are attracting jobs and investment.

“When it comes to taxes, what the UK Government has already delivered is a tax cut for millions of people in work, worth about £450 for an average worker on £35,000 that kicked in in January and it shows that our plan is working.

“In contrast the SNP have made Scotland the highest tax part of the UK.

“Anyone earning just over 28,000 is paying more tax in Scotland than they are in England and that is the contrast between our plan that is working and the SNP’s plan that is making Scotland the highest taxed part of the country.”

According to the Scottish Fiscal Commission, someone on £30,000 pays £11 more in tax throughout the year than a person earning the same amount south of the border.

By the time a person earns £50,000 per year that widens to about £1,500 and is nearly £6,000 extra for those on £150,000.

The Scottish Government said Scotland’s tax system is progressive and means those who can afford to pay more pay more.

Ministers say without tax rises they would be forced to cut public services.

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