Tory peer Zac Goldsmith has told BBC HARDtalk he would be “very tempted” to back the Labour Party at the next election if they showed “a real commitment” to “protect[ing] the natural world” as part of their green agenda. While he still has “concerns” about Labour, Goldsmith laid out the conditions upon which he’d back Sir Keir anyway:
“The simple truth is there is no pathway to net zero and there’s no solution to climate change that does not involve nature, massive efforts to protect and restore the natural world.
“And at the moment, I’m not hearing any of that from the Labour Party if I do, if there’s a real commitment now the kind of commitment, frankly, that we saw when Boris Johnson was the leader, then I’d be very tempted to throw my weight behind that party and support them in any way I could.”
Goldsmith quit as Rishi’s climate Minister just two months ago, penning a scathing resignation letter which accused Rishi of being “simply uninterested” in green politics. Rishi claimed he’d actually demanded an apology out of Goldsmith for his attacks on the Kangaroo Court, and Goldsmith stood down when he refused. Either way, it looks like the rift between the pair hasn’t closed much since…
Following Zac Goldsmith’s scathing resignation letter this morning, in which he claimed he was quitting over the government’s “apathy” to climate change, Downing Street have now published Rishi’s reply, which tells a slightly different story. Goldsmith supposedly refused to apologise for calling the Privileges Committee “a Kangaroo Court”…
“You were asked to apologise for your comments about the Privileges Committee as we felt they were incompatible with your position as a Minister of the Crown. You have decided to take a different course.”
Not one to be bounced into an apology…
Read the full letter below (don’t worry, it is shorter than Goldsmith’s):
UPDATE: Goldsmith responds, calling Number 10’s briefing “misleading” and adding he is happy to apologise:
“In response to some misleading briefing from Number 10, I’d like to make clear I am happy to apologise for publicly sharing my views on the Privilege Committee. I firmly believe our Parliamentary democracy can only be strengthened by robust exchange and scrutiny and Parliamentarians should of course be free to be critical of its reports & proceedings. But as a Minister I shouldn’t have commented publicly. Number 10 asked me to acknowledge that and made clear there was no question of my being sacked if I did so. I was -and am- happy to do so.
In the scheme of things, neither my comment about the Committee nor N10’s request are of consequence. However the substance of my letter to the Prime Minister absolutely are.
My decision to step down has been a long time coming. As I explained in my letter to the PM, I have tried hard in recent months to protect and build upon a strong UK record of international environmental leadership. That job has become significantly harder on his watch and I am saddened by the damage being done to our reputation globally as a result. When I compare what I and my amazing team in government were able to do before the current PM took office with the lethargy of today, I can no longer justify being in government. I sincerely hope he reflects on the substance of my letter and of similar views expressed by so many others.”
Zac Goldsmith has quit as environment minister this morning, accusing the government of “apathy” towards climate change and attacking Rishi Sunak personally for being “simply uninterested” in the subject. His resignation letter is a two-page diatribe…
“Before you took office, you assured Party members, via me, that you would continue implementing the Action Plan, including the Kept Animals Bill and measures like ending the live export of animals for slaughter, banning keeping primates as pets, preventing the import of shark fins and hunting trophies from vulnerable species
Prime Minister, having been able to get so much done previously, I have struggled even to hold the line in recent months. The problem is not that the government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our Prime Minister, are simply uninterested. That signal, or lack of it, has trickled down through Whitehall and caused a kind of paralysis.
I will never understand how, with all the knowledge we now have about our fundamental reliance on the natural world and the speed with which we are destroying it, anyone can be uninterested.”
Yesterday Downing Street said Rishi had full confidence in Zac Goldsmith. Obviously the feeling was not mutual. Zero days since last incident…
Read the full, very long letter below:
Despite the reshuffle being formally paused until after the Queen’s funeral, Liz Truss has ploughed on with sacking Tory tree-hugger-in-chief Zac Goldsmith from his DEFRA ministerial post. While the government is still paying lip service to the Net Zero target, they’ve signalled climate and animal welfare issues could be de-prioritised over the coming months. The Guardian speculates that the Animal Welfare Bill could be first up for slaughter. The PM’s next royal audience should be interesting…
The news comes as The Guardian reports Liz is planning to follow through on her leadership election pledge and lift the ban on fracking as soon as possible, with first licences set to be issued as early as next week. This will no doubt come as welcome relief as energy bills continue to rise during winter. The decision comes despite the paper’s ominous quote from a forthcoming report that forecasting fracking-induced earthquakes “remains a significant challenge”. In August 2019 Caudrilla halted work after recording the UK’s “biggest fracking tremor”. The tremor in question was 1.55ML on the Richter scale, “which it likened to ‘a large bag of shopping dropping to the floor'”…
UPDATE: Read Zac’s letter to his former Defra colleagues below:
CCHQ will be relieved that the findings of the the long-expected independent investigation into alleged discrimination within the party. A number of key findings rejected critic charges and found in favour of the party on an institutional basis:
The report also says the Muslim Council of Britain, who questioned the impartiality of the investigation chair, failed to provide evidence despite being asked on multiple occasions.
The report does recommend points of improvement for the party, not least “clear evidence of a Party complaints system in need of overhaul”, with claims the party’s Complaints Team is under-resourced and inadequately trained. It also points to:
The most substantive criticism is of weak local party association systems for identifying discrimination, rather than at national level at CCHQ.
Hacks will no doubt focus on the section relating to Boris’s “letterboxes” column. The PM repeated his usual excuse of having written “millions of words as a journalist” and some things had been taken out of context, however he does say sorry:
“I am obviously sorry for any offence taken. Would I use some of the offending language from my past writings today? Now that I am PM, I would not.”
The report also notes that comments such as those by the PM, and Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign, “give the impression to many that the Party and its leadership are insensitive to Muslim communities”. The report’s author, Professor Swaran Singh, says crucially: “I’m not saying that the party leadership IS insensitive to Muslim communities. I’m saying that the perception is very strong.” CCHQ says they’re considering the report and will respond later today, though the PM indicated to the chair he will implement many of the inquiry’s findings…
UPDATE: Guido learns a CCHQ meeting of all affiliate groups just took place. The party is now asking for feedback on the complaints process. The party were keen to highlight how “it’s good the report showed there was no political interference”
Yesterday Guido revealed Laura Pidcock was fined £3,835.32 for cheating in her re-election attempt. Today Guido can reveal three other Members of Parliament have been fined by the Standards Commissioner after using Parliamentary resources for party political campaigning.
All three politicians had, like Pidcock, sent constituents campaign letters using Parliamentary stationery and tax-funded second class stamps. After constituents complained the Standards Commissioner investigated the breaches and handed out fines, all of which have now been paid. Nothing more than a slap on the wrist…