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Liz Truss heads to Prague summit after Tory conference chaos

Liz Truss today called on European leaders to help ‘keep the lights on’ this winter after buying political breathing room with her Tory conference speech.

The Prime Minister is in Prague for a summit where she will hold talks with colleagues including French President Emmanuel Macron.

She will press the group to agree that gas and electricity connections between the countries must be kept open, as the conflict with Russia raises fears of shortages in the coming months.

The appeal comes against the backdrop of fears that Norway could choose to close interconnections with the UK and the EU to avoid power outages for its own population.

Norway has the capacity to supply the UK with 1.4 gigawatts (GW) through a cable to Northumberland – which is a key part of National Grid’s contingency planning.

Mrs Truss is turning her focus to tackling a winter crisis after a Conservative conference hit by conflicts over tax rates and benefit cuts.

But the discussions with Mr Macron are also expected to cover the issue of Channel migrants. There have been claims a deal was scuttled after Ms Truss refused to describe France as a ‘friend’ over the summer.

Liz Truss looked to be enjoying herself today as she posed for the family photo with other European leaders at the Prague summit

Liz Truss looked to be enjoying herself today as she posed for the family photo with other European leaders at the Prague summit

Liz Truss was greeted by Czech counterpart Petr Fiala (right) as she arrived at the summit in Prague today

Liz Truss was greeted by Czech counterpart Petr Fiala (right) as she arrived at the summit in Prague today

Liz Truss was greeted by Czech counterpart Petr Fiala (right) as she arrived at the summit in Prague today

Mrs Truss attends the first meeting of the European Political Community in Prague

Mrs Truss attends the first meeting of the European Political Community in Prague

Mrs Truss attends the first meeting of the European Political Community in Prague

The prime minister later holds talks with Emmanuel Macron, who are expected to cover the Channel migrant crisis

The prime minister later holds talks with Emmanuel Macron, who are expected to cover the Channel migrant crisis

The prime minister later holds talks with Emmanuel Macron, who are expected to cover the Channel migrant crisis

Mrs Truss chats with Italian Prime Minister Mario Dragh as discussions start in Prague

Mrs Truss chats with Italian Prime Minister Mario Dragh as discussions start in Prague

Mrs Truss chats with Italian Prime Minister Mario Dragh as discussions start in Prague

Mrs Truss will press the group to agree that gas and electricity connections between the countries must be kept open

Mrs Truss will press the group to agree that gas and electricity connections between the countries must be kept open

Mrs Truss will press the group to agree that gas and electricity connections between the countries must be kept open

Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron

Liz Truss

Liz Truss

Liz Truss is attending a summit in Prague where she will hold talks with colleagues including French President Emmanuel Macron.

Former minister Nadine Dorries this morning renewed her demand that the Prime Minister return to the agenda championed by Boris Johnson.

Former minister Nadine Dorries this morning renewed her demand that the Prime Minister return to the agenda championed by Boris Johnson.

Former minister Nadine Dorries this morning renewed her demand that the Prime Minister return to the agenda championed by Boris Johnson.

British consumers will be charged to use washing machines overnight as the National Grid warns of winter BLACKOUTS

Britain faces blackouts this winter, National Grid warned today, as it proposed a new scheme to pay consumers to run their washing machines or charge their electric cars away from peak hours.

They would be the first planned blackouts for decades if power stations cannot get enough gas to keep running, the body that oversees Britain’s electricity grid has said.

It is not the first time that the prospect of power outages has been raised by the energy giant. But this year’s warning has far more urgency as Vladimir Putin keeps pressure on gas supplies to Europe amid his faltering war in Ukraine.

System operators have warned that shortages of gas, which generated 40 per cent of Britain’s electricity last year, could mean planned three-hour blackouts in some areas to protect supplies for heating homes and buildings.

Britons are facing energy bills as the government pledged £150 billion to keep energy bills at £2,500 this winter, while many businesses say they face extinction without further help.

The National Grid warning comes as Bannatyne’s gyms were the latest to switch their sauna and steam rooms and pubs to candlelight in energy savings.

Mrs Truss met Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala for a working lunch before the bilateral meeting with Mr Macron later.

As foreign minister, she was skeptical of the planned summit – the idea of ​​the French president – so her decision to attend has caused some surprise.

Ms Truss told the opening plenary in Prague: ‘Europe is facing its biggest crisis since the Second World War. And we have faced it together with unity and determination.

‘We must continue to stand firm – to ensure that Ukraine wins this war, but also to deal with the strategic challenges that it has revealed.’

Mrs Truss will try to emphasize Britain’s role in European affairs – including Ukraine – despite leaving the EU.

Downing Street said Ms Truss’ talks with Mr Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will focus on migration and aim to secure progress on joint operations to disrupt gangs that traffic in people.

The prime minister urged countries to act more quickly to end Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies in light of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

She said: ‘The threat was left to go on for far too long. Now we are finally addressing Putin’s aggression head on.

‘And we should take the same approach with other challenges ahead – including long-standing regional issues such as energy and migration.

“Instead of the old approach that simply treated the symptoms, it’s time to address the root causes.”

Writing in The Times, Mrs Truss said it was vital for countries to support each other by keeping interconnections going, even in times of shortage.

“Britain sends and receives both gas and electricity through the undersea cables and pipelines that connect us to neighbors such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands,” she writes.

“Today we must all commit to keeping these connections open this winter, keeping the lights on across the continent.”

Adam Bell, former head of energy strategy at the Department for Business, said the possibility of blackouts is high in the coming months if there is a cold winter and the situation in Ukraine does not change.

He said: ‘The chance of a very cold January itself is quite low, it’s only 10 per cent or one in 10 years.

“But in that scenario, given the constraints Europe is under, given the constraints our system is under, even with the interventions National Grid has already planned, which include reopening some coal plants and paying people to turn down their demand, you would probably see some rolling blackouts for domestic customers.’

Bell said such a situation would be caused by “a very cold January, we are unable to import power from the continent, we cannot get more gas because everywhere in Europe is also demanding it and that means we have to close some of our gas power plants’.

He also said Britain cannot prepare for this situation now because of little capacity to store gas, adding: “We can store some gas but not enough to cover a week or a fortnight.”

Sir. Bell added that between 30 percent and 40 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels, saying: ‘We haven’t built enough renewable energy yet to completely wean ourselves off (fossil fuels). We will need to replace gas with other sources, such as hydrogen, to truly remove gas from our system.’

The Prime Minister has a little more nonsense in the domestic market after a solid address to the party faithful, which lays out her sand-blue vision for the country.

However, MPs have warned that if the polls continue to show a massive lead for Labour, there will be a move to “kick her out”.

Former minister Nadine Dorries this morning renewed her call for the Prime Minister to return to the agenda championed by Boris Johnson.

Mrs Dorries told The Times: ‘I understand we need to boost growth, but you don’t do that by throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You don’t win elections by slipping to the right and deserting midfield for Keir Starmer to plant his flag on.

‘If we continue down this path, we will absolutely face a Stephen Harper-type wipeout. I’m sure she’s listened and will stop and think about it.’

Former Canadian Prime Minister Mr. Harper lost power to Justin Trudeau in the 2015 election.

A supportive senior MP told MailOnline the important thing was that she had ‘got through’ her speech – although they admitted it was a ‘low bar’.

A supportive senior MP told MailOnline the important thing was that Mrs Truss had 'got through' her speech (pictured) - although they admitted it was a 'low bar'

A supportive senior MP told MailOnline the important thing was that Mrs Truss had 'got through' her speech (pictured) - although they admitted it was a 'low bar'

A supportive senior MP told MailOnline the important thing was that Mrs Truss had ‘got through’ her speech (pictured) – although they admitted it was a ‘low bar’

“There’s no doubt she’s bought herself some ground,” the former minister said, warning that major battles with rebels in Westminster still lie ahead.

“The important thing was to get things out of the way and go back to put some heads together.”

A former minister was less optimistic, branding Mrs Truss ‘deluded’ and ‘incompetent’. ‘I have never seen the Tory party in such a desperate state. It reminds me of John Mayor’s dying days.

‘She will have to go. It’s just a matter of time. Red Wall MPs have had a taste of rebellion. If they see Liz Truss can’t keep their seats they will kick her out… it will be a chain reaction.

‘I think she will take reservations for benefits. She’s digging into something that she’s going to have to back up.’

Ms Truss also faces a backlash for ending the Tory link with Isaac Levido, the Australian political strategist who played a key role in the 2019 election victory.

Lee Cain, a former No10 communications chief, said it was a ‘monumental mistake’ as Mr Levido helped spearhead the ‘best election campaign in decades’.