Energy crisis reveals wider leadership crisis at heart of Government, it must intervene to help business - Mark Casci

“And though I am today building a great team of men and women, I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see. Never mind the backstop - the buck stops here.”

It is hard to believe that these words were only uttered in July 2019 by a one Boris Johnson, shortly after the Queen invited him to form a Government.

The notion of the buck stopping, a phrase the owes itself to the Frontier era of American history and refers to whose turn it was to deal cards, is one that has been deployed by numerous politicians throughout history, most notably President Harry Truman who had the phrase as a sign on his desk.

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It demonstrates a willingness to accept responsibility for the identification and resolution of issues pertaining to the whole nation and is a signifier of trust.

Energy prices are skyrocketing.

As I write the nation in which we reside is headed for its latest crisis.

Energy costs are through the roof.

Gas prices in particular have rocketed over the past year, and are now trading at about six times the levels they were at in January.

This is currently placing intolerable pressures on businesses who have already endured a torrid 20 month period.

The steel industry is one of many encountering soaring costs.

One of Europe’s largest glass plants has predicted its energy costs could rocket by £60 million per year as a result of rising costs.

Adrian Curry, managing director at Encirc said the firm has seen “huge increases” to its natural gas and electricity costs. This forces it to pass on the increases to brand owners, retail outlets and consumers.

Gareth Stace, director general of UK Steel, has called on the Prime Minister to “bang ministerial heads together” to avoid an industry crisis hitting his sector.

The PA news agency understands ministers and officials will continue to speak to industry figures on Monday and throughout the week.

President Harry Truman

But talking, whether at a lectern or face-to-face with business, is not enough to avert the current crisis.

Energy firms are already going to the wall.

Mr Stace has already made the compelling point that, without intervention, the UK steel sector is set to feel real and lasting consequences.

Meanwhile factories the length and breadth of the country will be on tenterhooks as to their energy bills which could prove crippling as we head into the winter months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

This is not a crisis of the Government’s making.

But it is Government’s responsibility to solve it.

There is a clear case for intervention here. It need only be short-term but, seemingly driven by ideology, the prevailing attitude that market forces will resolve this seems to show no signs of being challenged.

If the buck truly does stop at Number 10 Downing Street then why is the Prime Minister currently residing in private villa on the Costa del Sol?

It is a pattern we have seen before.

As Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, the then foreign secretary was in Crete, with communication with team apparently slim.

This continual pattern of absence of leadership is not confined to Government but public life.

In North Yorkshire we have a Police and Crime Commissioner who is refusing to resign following his disgraceful remarks in the wake of the Sarah Everard case.

Philip Allott said Ms Everard “never should have submitted” to the arrest following the sentence of her murderer and, while he has apologised for his remarks, has refused to step down despite widespread claims he has lost the trust of the women the police force serves.

Watching the events of the past few weeks, I have kept thinking back to the words of another leader this year.

“That is my responsibility.

“I chose the guys to take the kicks. I told the players that nobody is on their own in that situation.

“We win and lose together as a team.”

These were the words of Gareth Southgate following the England men’s football team’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

Here was a leader who understood where the buck stopped. Oh that there more like him.