Priti Patel: We must pause net zero targets; Former home secretary warns voters are being “left behind” by the pursuit of green policies
DAME PRITI PATEL has urged the Government to pause its net zero targets as she warned voters are being “left behind” by the pursuit of green policies.
The former home secretary criticised a “corrosive culture” of pursuing time limited targets amid pressure on ministers to redraw some of their current environmental objectives.
Conservative backbenchers have urged a rethink after Labour failed to win this month’s Uxbridge by-election amid a voter backlash to the looming expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez).
In an interview with the Camilla Tominey Show on GB News, Dame Priti said: “My views on this are that actually we need to pause all this activity. 2030 is not that far away, you know, click your fingers, 2050 will be upon us.
“The public are not ready for this, and importantly we cannot just have the state, the Government, central government, just sort of saying … ‘these are the targets that you have to meet when we don’t have the technology’. We’re not ready.
“Now if we want a sensible conversation about climate and the impact of climate change, recognising there are problems is one thing, absolutely, but making sure that we have the tools and the ability that doesn’t impose costs and taxes on ordinary people, this is the space we have to be in. And we’re not, we’re not in that space at all.”
Warning against “mission creep”, Dame Priti went on: “My county council is talking about net zero, all local authorities are. Now they can talk about it but stop spending our money, quite frankly, when public funds need to be targeted and spent on issues on public service delivery, first and foremost – statutory services.”
Dame Priti became the latest senior Tory to urge a delay to the proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, arguing the measure should “100 per cent” be postponed.
“The default position of all governments, and I mean this of all govern ments over the last 20 years, is that we can just spend public money to chase targets,” she added.
“We have to stop that, that is a corrosive culture. Everyone’s too busy subscribing to targets and ticking boxes rather than thinking about the practical implications.”
After failing to publicly back the 2030 timescale earlier in the week, Rishi Sunak confirmed yesterday the target “has been our policy for a long time and continues to be”, insisting that a delay is not being considered.
Speaking to Times Radio, Lord Callanan, the parliamentary under-secretary for energy efficiency and green finance, said ministers are “still committed to the green agenda”.
“We are still committed to net zero by 2050,” he said. “All we’re saying is that we have to do it in a way that’s fair and proportionate and that takes people along with us. We don’t want some sort of religious crusade.”
Dame Priti‘s criticisms of Downing Street’s net zero policy came as she urged it to do more to speed up the removal of illegal Channel migrants to Rwanda, a scheme first announced when she ran the Home Office.
Asked about the delays that have plagued the programme, she replied: “Lefty lawyers are one aspect of this, so the Government needs to clamp down – that’s the Attorney General, that’s the Lord Chancellor – on the way these legal firms behave.
Pressed on new immigration laws introduced since her return to the backbenches, Dame Priti responded: “The problem the Government now has is that the stories are all about accommodation… about buying tents.”
Article by Dominic Penna in The Daily Telegraph, 31st July 2023