Sunak performs first U-turn as Prime Minister and confirms he will attend COP27


    Rishi Sunak today U-turned on Cop27 and confirmed he will attend the climate summit in Egypt. It comes less than 24 hours after Boris Johnson piled further pressure on the PM by saying he would travel to Sharm El Sheikh for the United Nations meeting, which kicks off on Sunday.

    But the U-turn by Mr Sunak, who initially said he would not attend the conference, has been branded “embarrassing” by critics.

    The Prime Minister tweeted this morning: “There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change.

    “There is no energy security without investing in renewables.

    “That is why I will attend CopP27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”

    Mr Sunak initially ruled out attending Cop27 sparking widespread criticism.

    But the decision of his arch-rival and former Downing Street neighbour to attend made it impossible to resist going.

    Mr Johnson, who left office in September, yesterday said “yes, as it happens” when asked by Sky News if he was going.

    The ex-PM said: “I was invited by the Egyptians so I’m very happy to go.”

    Asked if his successor in No 10 should go too, he said Mr Sunak has a “massive amount to do” with the Government’s domestic agenda.

    He added: “I happen to have a particular interest.”

    Mr Johnson argued it has become “unfashionable” to talk about the Cop26, which he hosted in Glasgow last year.

    He said: “I want to talk a little bit about how I see things and how we see things in the UK.”

    Mr Sunak’s U-turn over attending this year’s Cop conference has been criticised by some.

    Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner blasted: “Dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing. Embarrassing.”

    Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “Glad to see Sunak’s screeching U-turn on Cop27, but what an embarrassing misstep on the world stage. Let this be a lesson to him – climate leadership matters.

    “Now he urgently needs to increase UK ambition on emission reduction targets & pay what we owe to global climate funds.”

    Labour’s Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary Ed Milliband said: “The Prime Minister has been shamed into going to COP27 by the torrent of disbelief that he would fail to turn up.

    “Rishi Sunak is going to avoid embarrassment not to provide leadership.

    “His initial instinct tells us about all about him: he just doesn’t get it when it comes to the energy bills and climate crisis.

    “Yet again we see a Prime Minister who only makes decisions for reasons of political management not the national interest.

    “If the Prime Minister was really serious he would commit to Labour’s plans for a zero carbon power system by 2030, a National Wealth Fund to invest in green jobs and GB Energy – a publicly owned energy generation company to create jobs and wealth in Britain.”

    Lib Dem climate change spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse said: “This whole debacle has shown the environment is simply not a priority for Rishi Sunak. He’s only going after being embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance.

    “We need action rather than just attendance from the Prime Minister.

    “Building more renewables, the cheapest and most popular form of energy and insulating our cold and draughty homes will accelerate progress towards net zero, cut energy bills and increase the UK’s energy security.”

    Meanwhile, Mr Sunak’s climate tsar Alok Sharma said he was “delighted” at the PM’s change of mind after previously saying he was “disappointed” over his decision not to attend.

    The outgoing Cop26 president tweeted: “Delighted that RishiSunak is attending Cop27 – completely agree with his comment that ‘there is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change’.”

    Initially Downing Street said Mr Sunak would not be attending the climate summit because he must focus on the “depressing domestic challenges” as he works on the autumn budget.

    But on Monday No 10 said that the decision was now “under review” as “substantial progress” was being made on his economic plans.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman could not confirm on Tuesday afternoon whether Mr Sunak would be attending, saying talks are ongoing between him and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt as the pair look to plug a huge black hole in the public finances.

    It comes as King Charles, who is passionate about the environment, will not attend Cop27 but will hold a pre-conference reception at Buckingham Palace on Friday.


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