Rishi Sunak's Plan To Weaponise Climate Change to Cling on to Power
Paul Connew investigates the Prime Minister's cynical attempt to drive a wedge between voters and the need to save the planet
“Boris, Boris, wherefore art thou, Boris?” I’m not in the habit of delivering paeans to our fallen Prime Minister. But it sprang to mind on Wednesday 20 September 2023 as I watched the man who ousted him morph into Boris as he staged a speech and press conference at No 10, bluffing and blustering through a transparent retreat on the government’s climate change policy. Except that Rishi Sunak lacked Johnson’s entertainment quality: no jokes, no Shakespeare quotations, no diversions into Latin, no references to Plato or Socrates or obscure emperor-generals with names plucked from antiquity.
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Sunak’s Seven Deadly Bins
What was familiar, however, was the cynical opportunism, the liberty with facts, the bogus spin that came with claiming to have scrapped measures that were not even on his government’s climate change policy agenda, such as taxes on meat, flying, compulsory car-sharing, and forcing households to recycle in seven different bins. Even at his most fanciful, Johnson might have shied away from Sunak’s claim that his decision “wasn’t political” when that was transparently exactly what it was.
But what was also clear was that 20 September signalled the starting gun for a general election next autumn, or even a snap election gamble next spring, in which climate change retreat will be at the heart of Sunak’s bid to turn the electoral tide in a triple-issue harness with migration, and accusations that Keir Starmer is plotting to betray Brexit and steer Britain back into the EU by stealth.
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