Boris Johnson’s kettle comments taken out of context

2 September 2022
What was claimed

Boris Johnson suggested buying a new kettle to save £10 a year on energy bills.

Our verdict

While Mr Johnson did say that buying a new kettle could bring about savings of £10 a year on electricity bills, he appears to have been attempting to make an analogy for the long-term cost benefits of nuclear energy, rather than offering advice on how to save money on energy bills.

A video clip of Prime Minister Boris Johnson talking about the potential savings from buying a new kettle has gone viral on social media.

In the clip Mr Johnson says: “If you have an old kettle that takes ages to boil it may cost you £20 to replace it, but if you get a new one, you’ll save £10 a year for every year on your electricity bill”.

The comment, which was made during a speech at the Sizewell nuclear site in Suffolk on Thursday, 1 September, has been shared widely on Twitter, as well as by some news outlets, with many claiming that Mr Johnson was offering advice for how to save money in light of increasing energy bills.

The viral video clip has also been shared widely on Facebook, including by the comedian Daniel O’Reilly, also known as Dapper Laughs, who said “this is what the leader of our country just said about the f***ing energy crisis” and added: ”The geezer that’s in charge of the f***ing country, from the party that’s running the country, goes: ‘You know what you want to f***ing do, yeah? Go out and buy a £20 kettle to save a tenner.’”

However, this clip has been taken out of the context of Mr Johnson’s wider speech, which saw the Prime Minister support greater investment in nuclear energy.

Immediately prior to the part of his speech which went viral, he said: “Nuclear [energy] when you begin, it always looks relatively expensive to build and to run but… it is certainly cheap by comparison with hydrocarbons today.

“In fact, if Hinkley Point C were already running this year… it would be cutting fuel bills by £3 billion…so you have to look ahead and you have to be aware of the false economy.”

In this context, it appears that Mr Johnson was attempting to make an analogy by comparing the long-term savings generated by nuclear energy to the savings of buying a more efficient kettle. Number 10 confirmed it was an analogy to highlight that upfront investment pays off with more savings in the long-term.

However, in the past 24 hours, the out-of-context clip has received millions of views and shares, including by Labour shadow cabinet ministers Wes Streeting and David Lammy, the latter of whom criticised the Prime Minister as “out of touch”, without mentioning the broader context of his comments. Full Fact has contacted Mr Streeting and Mr Lammy for comment and will update this piece if they respond.

The figure mentioned by Mr Johnson of cutting fuel bills by £3 billion is significantly higher than the £1 billion which EDF Energy—the majority owner of the project— previously said in June that Hinkley Point C nuclear power station would be saving on customer fuel bills if operational. 

However, EDF confirmed this is accurate, and could rise to £4 billion if market prices remain at extraordinary levels.

According to an update on the project published in May 2022, the construction of Hinkley Point C is estimated to cost between £25-26 billion, with recent delays resulting in an extra £3 billion in costs. The new station is now forecast to begin generating electricity in 2027.

A government spokesperson said of the revised forecast in May: “While the Covid pandemic has understandably led to delays, the revised Hinkley Point C construction forecast will have no impact on British billpayers or taxpayers, with any increase in costs borne entirely by the developers.”

Image courtesy of Number 10

Update 6 September 2022

We’ve updated this piece to reflect our attempts to contact Wes Streeting MP and David Lammy MP, and to include new detail about how the claim has been shared on Facebook.

Correction 6 September 2022

We’ve corrected this piece to state that Boris Johnson’s speech was made on 1 September.

We took a stand for good information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted the Independent and the Metro to ask them to include important context which we believe was missing from their articles. 

The Independent and the Metro amended their articles. 

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