Amber Rudd tells lobby hacks about getting to grips with DECC... and being snubbed by Boris
Amber Rudd spoke of her battle to “get a grip on the spending” at the Department for Energy and Climate Change as she lunched with lobby journalists today.
The energy secretary appeared to criticise her predecessor Ed Davey as she dined with the parliamentary press gallery, five months after David Cameron put her in charge of the Department for Energy and Climate Change. She said:
“It has been quite an extraordinary experience... The first thing I would say is that this was a Lib Dem-run department under the coalition and therefore had a completely different complexion to other departments.
“The first thing I did was try to get a grip on the spending and what I found was that it took a while for the department to actually give me the numbers of how much has been spent within the Levy Control Framework, which is the subsidy that’s available to renewable energy until 2020. And that number was quite a significant overspend.
“So that’s what, I’m afraid, characterised the start of being secretary of state, reining in those numbers.”
Asked about energy prices, Rudd insisted that "the best way to deliver transparent prices is to have more competition".
She rejected the suggestion that David Cameron had lost interest in green issues and said the PM had "specifically" spoken to her about the important of getting a gloal agreement on climate change at the Paris summit in December.
On a more lighthearted note, Rudd spoke of her early days in the Commons, recalling when Newsnight rather cruelly stood her down as a guest for a discussion about women in parliament.
“They said no thank you very much, we’ll stand you down, we’ll have Peter Bone.”
And she revealed that Boris Johnson had apologised shortly after the 2015 general election for apparently reneging on a promise to help her on the campaign trail, telling her:
“Oh Amber, I had meant to come to Hastings.”
Asked if she was an Osbornite, Rudd said she preferred to see herself as "a David Cameronite".
As the lunch was winding up, it dawned on the hacks that no-one had asked the obligatory question about whether the cabinet minister wanted to be the next Tory leader. So Mail Online’s Matt Chorley gallantly took one for the team. Would Rudd be throwing her hat into the ring?
She answered in the definitive: “No.”