Zac Goldsmith resigns and criticises Rishi Sunak for attending Rupert Murdoch party over Paris climate summit – UK politics live | Politics

Goldsmith criticises Sunak in resignation letter for going to Rupert Murdoch’s party instead of Paris climate summit

Here is an extract from Zac Goldsmith’s resignation letter explaining why he quit.

We also made progress on animal welfare. The government signed off an ambitious Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which would have represented the biggest shake up of animal welfare in living memory. As minister responsible I was able to translate it, bit by bit, into law. We increased sentencing for cruelty from 6 months to 5 years, we recognised in law the sentience of animals, enacted and extended the ivory trade ban, introduced measures to break the pet smuggling trade and banned glue traps. 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.

But I have been horrified as, bit by bit, we have abandoned these commitments – domestically and on the world stage. The kept animals bill has been ditched, despite your promises. Our efforts on a wide range of domestic environmental issues have simply ground to a standstill.

More worrying, the UK has visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature. Too often we are simply absent from key international fora. Only last week you seemingly chose to attend the party of a media baron rather than attend a critically important environment summit in Paris that ordinarily the UK would have co-led.

Worse still, we have effectively abandoned one of the most widely reported and solemn promises we have made on this issue; our pledge to spend £11.6bn of our aid on climate and environment. Indeed the only reason the government has not had to come clean on the broken promise is because the final year of expenditure falls after the next general election and will therefore be the problem for the next government, not this one.

This is a promise, remember, that has been consistently repeated by prime ministers in the past four years, including by you, and for good reason. It is the single most important signal of intent for the dozens of small island and climate vulnerable states on an issue that is existential for them. These states, remember, have equal sway in the UN where we routinely seek their support on other issues.

That same promise was also used successfully by the UK as leverage to persuade G7 countries to follow suit, and breaking it would not only infuriate them, along with those small island states in the commonwealth and beyond – it would shred any reputation we have for being a reliable partner.

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. But even if this existential challenge leaves you personally unmoved, there is a world of people who do care very much. And you will need their votes.

The “media baron” Goldsmith is referring to is Rupert Murdoch. Last week Rishi Sunak attended Murdoch’s summer party in London when he could have attended a summit in Paris on adapting the global financial system to meet the challenge posed by the climate crisis. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, was hosting the event, and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, was there too. But, like Sunak, other G7 leaders were criticised for not attending.

Key events

Goldsmith resigned after being told to apologise for attacking privileges committee inquiry into Boris Johnson, sources claim

Zac Goldsmith resigned after being told to apologise for the tweet he sent which the Commons privileges committee described as being part of a campaign to undermine its investigation into Boris Johnson (see 9.56am), Sam Blewett from PA Media reports.

New: Understand Lord Zac Goldsmith had been told to apologise for his alleged role in the campaign to undermine the Privileges Committee inquiry into Boris Johnson

Instead, he resigned criticising Rishi Sunak for being “simply uninterested” in the climate crisis https://t.co/Deoch42mpR

— Sam Blewett (@BlewettSam) June 30, 2023

This seems to be based on a background briefing, rather than an on-the-record comment. We will find out later if Rishi Sunak is willing to confirm this on the record.

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Goldsmith’s resignation a ‘devastating indictment’ of Sunak’s environmental record, says Labour

Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary for climate change and net zero, has described Zac Goldsmith’s resignation letter as a “devastating indictment” of Rishi Sunak’s environmental record.

This is a devastating indictment of Rishi Sunak and his whole government on climate and nature. Serving ministers are so “horrified” by their approach they are resigning from the government.

The Conservatives should hang their heads in shame. https://t.co/9Woajy6qEt

— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) June 30, 2023

Natalie Bennett, the former Green party leader, has praised Zac Goldsmith for his resignation over Rishi Sunak’s “apathy” about the environment.

But Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, thinks that, if the government is focusing less on climate issues, that’s a good thing.

Full text of Zac Goldsmith’s resignation letter

Here is the full text of Zac Goldsmith’s resignation letter.

The Liberal Democrats have criticised Rishi Sunak for not sacking Zac Goldsmith yesterday, after he was criticised by the Commons privileges committee (see 9.56am), instead of letting him resign today. The Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney said:

This Conservative chaos is never-ending. Every day brings more more resignations and scandal in this depressing Westminster soap opera.

Rishi Sunak should have had the guts to sack Zac Goldsmith yesterday when he was brutally criticised by the partygate watchdog. Sunak is clearly too weak to control his own party.

Humane Society International/UK, an animal protection organisation, has paid tribute to Zac Goldsmith. Clare Bass, its director of campaigns and public affairs, said:

Animals have lost a true champion in parliament today. We’re grateful to Lord Goldsmith for everything he’s done as a minister to protect animals and the environment. We hope this loss serves as a major wake-up call for the prime minister that there are only so many broken promises the country, and his own party, will take.

Yesterday Zac Goldsmith was named by the privileges committee as one of three peers, as well as seven MPs, it accused of taking part in what it called a “coordinated campaign” to undermine its inquiry into Boris Johnson. It highlighted the fact that, on the day Boris Johnson announced he was resigning as an MP, Goldsmith retweeted a tweet calling the inquiry investigating him a witch-hunt and a kangaroo court. Goldsmith added his own message saying:

Exactly this. There was only ever going to be one outcome and the evidence was totally irrelevant to it.

Goldsmith was the only serving minister named in the report, which led to No 10 being asked if Rishi Sunak supported what he had done. No 10 said Sunak still had confidence in Goldsmith, but also stressed that Sunak supported the work of the committee.

Goldsmith criticises Sunak in resignation letter for going to Rupert Murdoch’s party instead of Paris climate summit

Here is an extract from Zac Goldsmith’s resignation letter explaining why he quit.

We also made progress on animal welfare. The government signed off an ambitious Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which would have represented the biggest shake up of animal welfare in living memory. As minister responsible I was able to translate it, bit by bit, into law. We increased sentencing for cruelty from 6 months to 5 years, we recognised in law the sentience of animals, enacted and extended the ivory trade ban, introduced measures to break the pet smuggling trade and banned glue traps. 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.

But I have been horrified as, bit by bit, we have abandoned these commitments – domestically and on the world stage. The kept animals bill has been ditched, despite your promises. Our efforts on a wide range of domestic environmental issues have simply ground to a standstill.

More worrying, the UK has visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature. Too often we are simply absent from key international fora. Only last week you seemingly chose to attend the party of a media baron rather than attend a critically important environment summit in Paris that ordinarily the UK would have co-led.

Worse still, we have effectively abandoned one of the most widely reported and solemn promises we have made on this issue; our pledge to spend £11.6bn of our aid on climate and environment. Indeed the only reason the government has not had to come clean on the broken promise is because the final year of expenditure falls after the next general election and will therefore be the problem for the next government, not this one.

This is a promise, remember, that has been consistently repeated by prime ministers in the past four years, including by you, and for good reason. It is the single most important signal of intent for the dozens of small island and climate vulnerable states on an issue that is existential for them. These states, remember, have equal sway in the UN where we routinely seek their support on other issues.

That same promise was also used successfully by the UK as leverage to persuade G7 countries to follow suit, and breaking it would not only infuriate them, along with those small island states in the commonwealth and beyond – it would shred any reputation we have for being a reliable partner.

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. But even if this existential challenge leaves you personally unmoved, there is a world of people who do care very much. And you will need their votes.

The “media baron” Goldsmith is referring to is Rupert Murdoch. Last week Rishi Sunak attended Murdoch’s summer party in London when he could have attended a summit in Paris on adapting the global financial system to meet the challenge posed by the climate crisis. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, was hosting the event, and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, was there too. But, like Sunak, other G7 leaders were criticised for not attending.

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Zac Goldsmith resigns as minister, blaming Sunak for UK abandoning global leadership role on climate and nature

Good morning. Rishi Sunak is holding a press conference later to give details of his new NHS long-term workforce plan – one of the biggest policy initiatives of his premiership. He probably wasn’t expecting to be dealing with a resignation today. But Zac Goldsmith has just announced he is resigning as a minister at the Foreign Office, saying that he can no longer carry on because of the government’s “apathy” on issues relating to climate and the environment.

In his long resignation letter, posted on Twitter, he says he is “horrified” by how the government has abandoned commitments on animal welfare. He says the UK has “withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature”. And he says that Sunak personally is to blame.

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.

It has been a privilege to have been able to make a difference to a cause I have been committed to for as long as I remember. But this govt’s apathy in the face of the greatest challenge we face makes continuing in my role untenable. Reluctantly I am therefore stepping down pic.twitter.com/KDJKN3i6ER

— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) June 30, 2023

Goldsmith is close to Carrie Johnson, the former PM’s wife, and his resignation could be seen as the departure of yet another member of the Johnson faction who have a grudge against Sunak for the role he played in bringing down Boris Johnson. But Goldsmith does not refer to this at all in his letter, which is all about environmental issues, his political passion.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9am: The government publishes its NHS long-term workforce plan

Morning: Rishi Sunak is on a visit in Cambridge.

10.30am: The high court hears the government’s legal challenge against the Covid inquiry over its demand to see unredacted WhatsApp messages that the government claims are irrelevant to the inquiry.

11.30am: Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, gives a speech to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

12pm: Sunak holds a press conference at No 10 about the NHS long-term workforce plan with Amanda Pritchard, the NHS England chief executive, and Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director.

If you want to contact me, do try the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a PC or a laptop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line, privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate), or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.




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