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Whitehall caution frustrating bid to boost energy supply, Zahawi blasts

CAUTIOUS civil servants are frustrating bids to boost Britain’s energy supply, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi blasted yesterday. 

In a briefing with Tory MPs he tore into the Whitehall machine for “trying to shackle” long-term projects that would bring bills down.

Nadhim Zahawi tore into the Whitehall machine for "trying to shackle" attempts to boost Britain's energy supply

Nadhim Zahawi tore into the Whitehall machine for “trying to shackle” attempts to boost Britain’s energy supplyCredit: Reuters

He warned the Conservatives risked looking like Nick Clegg – who years ago railed against nuclear power because the plants would not be ready “until 2022”.

A source on the call said he launched into “an impassioned speech against Treasury orthodoxy on caution and bean-counting.”

Mr Zahawi is said to have raged: “We agree things at Cabinet and then the Treasury spends too much energy and time and resources trying to shackle it and hold it back.”

He said that many mandarins were too “uncomfortable” taking a punt and should get used to “holding risk”.

Mr Zahawi is said to have warned: “If we don’t, investment will think we are not serious and it will go elsewhere. 

“Just look at the Nick Clegg meme on nuclear energy. We don’t want people looking back at us in ten years like that.”

Mr Zahawi laid bare the grim economic picture to colleagues as inflation burst into double digits and the country teeters on the brink of recession.

The Chancellor urged Tory MPs to counter Labour’s attacks by reminding voters that it was Vladimir Putin who was to blame for soaring bills.

Although he is drawing up cost of living plans for whoever takes over as PM, he admitted there are “no easy options” to cushion the pain for families.

He has asked Treasury officials to cook up proposals to slash bills by providing loans to energy suppliers who would in turn cut consumer costs.

It is also understood they are working on options for direct support for the poorest households.