Rishi Sunak wrong to say we’ve had a ‘colder than usual’ winter

4 February 2022
What was claimed

We have had a colder than usual winter.

Our verdict

We have had a warmer than usual winter, in the UK at least.

“We have had a colder than usual winter so we have used up more of our own stores of gas here at home.”

In The Sun newspaper, Chancellor Rishi Sunak claimed some of the recent steep rise in energy prices can be put down to the fact that “we have had a colder than usual winter”. This appeared to refer to UK temperatures, particularly given the connection made to the use of gas “here at home”—and the online version of the article included a link to a news report from mid-January about UK temperatures dipping to a “bone-chilling -7C”.

However, Met Office data shows that overall we’ve actually had a warmer than usual winter. 

In December 2021, the average UK temperature was 5.3°C, 1.1°C above the 1991-2020 long-term average. In January, the average temperature was 4.7°C, 0.8°C above the average.

The Met Office says: “Two months into meteorological winter and the season so far has been mild, with mean temperatures for the UK sat at 5°C, which is 0.9°C above the long-term average for the whole of winter.”

We contacted the Treasury to ask what Mr Sunak’s claim was based on, but have not received a response at the time of publication. However the online version of Mr Sunak’s article has since been changed, and that line now reads: “Another is the fact that last year across Europe and Asia we had a long cold winter so stores of gas have been lower than usual.”

Image courtesy of the UK Government

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