Hello there, I’m Matt Mathers and welcome to The Independent’s Inside Politics newsletter.
Rishi Sunak has insisted that the world can still limit temperature rises to 1.5C ahead of the Cop27 summit in Egypt. Back at home he continues to come under fire for appointing Gavin Williamson to his cabinet.
Inside the bubble
Commons action gets underway at 2.30pm with defence questions. After that comes any urgent questions or statements, followed by the second reading of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill. After there is an adjournment debate on the governance and financial sustainability of football clubs in England.
Rishi Sunak is being urged to match his words with action as he prepares for the Cop27 summit in Egypt. After flip-flopping on whether or not he would actually make an appearance at the conference (he will be there for one day), the prime minister last night insisted that the world can still limit global temperatures rises to 1.5 degrees.
He said that the UK is at the “forefront” of global efforts to avert disaster, claims that have come under fresh scrutiny after the PM’s initial refusal to make the trip to northeast Africa. The UK is also among 165 countries criticised for failing to beef-up promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions, as leaders agreed to do at Cop26 in Glasgow a year ago.
Sunak is also expected to raise the migrant and asylum seeker crisis with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron when the two meet for the first time later today. And his comments to The Sun newpaper ahead of those discussions will certainly raise the eyebrows of critics not convinced that Sunak’s heart is fully in this year’s crunch summit – just a year after the UK held the presidency.
Sunak told the paper his “key priority” at the conference was resolving the crisis of small boats crossing the Channel. “I have spent more time working on that in the last few days than anything else other than the autumn statement.”
Sunak will pledge small amounts of cash to help protect rainforests and boost green energy in African countries and to divert existing funding to help poorer countries adapt to the crisis. But, as The Independent revealed, the government has refused to say if an existing pledge on climate finance is being met – despite Boris Johnson claiming spending will rise to an average of £2.3bn a year. Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, criticised a “vacuum of leadership” during the UK’s year-long Cop presidency.
Sunak’s trip to Egypt might offer some light relief as his domestic problems pile up and questions about his judgement continue over the hiring of Gavin Williamson to cabinet.
Over the weekend it was reported that Williamson sent threatening texts to the former Conservative Party deputy chief whip, Wendy Morton, in a row apparently about the Queen’s funeral.
Morton felt strongly enough about the texts to complain about Williamson. And there are fresh reports this morning that the former education secretary threatened another Conservative MP with details of her private life, during a supposed attempt to silence her.
The problem for Sunak, if reports are accurate, is that he knew of Morton’s complaint about Williamson when he promoted him to the cabinet last month, although a close ally of the PM yesterday denied that he was aware of the specific nature of the texts. Sunak refused to give Williamson his full backing last night.
On the record
Sunak when asked if Williamson is safe in his job.
“There’s a process happening. It’s right to let that conclude. It’s not acceptable.”
From the Twitterati
George Eaton, New Statesman senior editor, on Brexit.
“We shouldn’t over-emphasise Brexit as a cause of the UK’s current woes. Most of its biggest problems long predate the Leave vote: dismal productivity, wage stagnation, dilapidated infrastructure, low skills.”
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