PEOPLE struggling in Wales and relying on food banks should take comfort from the UK Government’s plans for new nuclear power stations, Boris Johnson has suggested. 

The prime minister has been in Newtown where the Welsh Conservatives have been holding their spring conference and before his keynote speech Johnson also visited a honey factory. 

He told the conference the government can’t “magic away” the cost-of-living crisis but said it would “throw its arms around people” as he said it had done during the Covid crisis. 

He also highlighted the rising cost of energy but in interviews has been non-committal on calls for a windfall tax on energy firms that have seen profits rocket as prices have soared. 

Speaking to reporters Johnson sought to highlight the government’s intentions for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, on Ynys Mon, and new reactor at Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd, which he announced support for during his conference speech, as an answer to energy security and rising costs. 

He mentioned both sites when asked why his government is waiting on offering more support to deal with escalating living costs when people in Wales are struggling and using food banks

The Conservative leader said his government is offering “huge amounts of support right now” but also highlighted energy supply and security as a pressing issue. 

He said: “The issue that we have to tackle is not only the help for the immediate cost, the cost of people’s energy, the cost of food – what you’ve got to fix is the supply of energy in this country. 

“It is crazy that we’re paying so much more than some other countries for dependable low-carbon energy. 

“And we made a historic mistake in not going for enough nuclear. 

“Here in Wales we have the answer, not just at Wylfa, but Trawsfynydd.” 

Wylfa has been identified in a UK energy plan and the possibility of developing a new, smaller reactor at Trawsfynydd, another former nuclear site in the north, has also been identified by the UK Government but no plans for either site have been approved. 

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Told that people need help ‘now’ the prime minister said: “I care deeply about the crunch now, that’s what we have to avoid also, is future crunches and future spikes in the cost of energy. It is insane that this country gets electricity from the continent, from France. 

"Crazy, when we’ve got hydrocarbons of our own, and that we’re continuing to take them from Putin’s Russia.” 

Speaking to The National Dylan Morgan, from the anti-nuclear group PAWB, Pobl Atal Wylfa B/People Against Wylfa B, dismissed the prime minister's comments as "bluster" and said there will still be significant costs to new nuclear power stations and commercial firms will expect an agreed price from government.

Morgan said: "As usual, Boris Johnson is shooting from the hip. All his bluster about possible new nuclear reactors displays an astounding level of economic and environmental illiteracy."

He said any firms willing to develop new reactors will expect "government handouts" and said consumers and taxpayers will still foot the final bill.

He added: "Labelling Wylfa and Trawsfynydd as possible new sites for this most dangerous, dirty, radiotoxic, health threatening and expensive technology is an insult to the people of Wales. It is the totally wrong path to tread and it may be the case that Johnson will not be in office for too long to realise his madcap nuclear ambitions."

Johnson was also asked about the TV chef and food campaigner Jamie Oliver who has today been protesting about moves to delay a ban on junk food advertising and on supermarket pricing deals that were originally included in the prime minister’s obesity plan. 

Johnson asked; “Is he protesting about me? When a reporter raised Oliver’s ‘Eton Mess’ protest at Downing Street. 

Told the chef was “protesting about your obesity policy” the prime minister said: “OK, we understand the vital importance of tackling obesity. It costs the NHS huge, huge sums of money. If people feel healthier, happier, their quality of life is much, much better if they lose weight, speaking entirely personally. 

“There are lots of things you’ve got to focus on, including diet, eating less – and eating less is the most important thing. 

“But there are some things at the moment where we think they make very little difference to obesity, and they can affect people’s weekly outgoings, people’s budgets. 

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“And at this particular time, if people can save on their food bills with some offers, then I think we’ve just got to be flexible whilst continuing to tackle obesity.” 

During the interviews Johnson also mentioned the tax cut for most earners when National Insurance contributions change in July, having been raised in April, and asked about increased paperwork for farmers due to Brexit said they would see benefits if energy prices are reduced. 

Additional reporting: Luke O'Reilly, PA

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