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UK

PM uses David Attenborough unashamedly to boost populist support

Tuesday 4th February 2020
BORIS_JOHNSON

One of the highest trending issues on the global political stage is climate change, one that Trump has distanced himself from, but  it seems Boris Johnson wants to align himself with.

At 93, David Attenborough has all the attributes of a national treasure, and has surged to almost Mandela-like status from his platform as a documenter and promoter of the world’s wildlife, so getting him on side is political gold.

You would think that with a majority of 80 that Johnson could sit on his laurels, but it seems that he, and his partner in crime Dominic Cummings, have clearly planned strategies to keep in him in Downing Street for a long time.

While he is already facing backbench rebellions over Huawei’s contract and their are rumblings about his proposals regarding trade deals with Europe after Brexit, a clear message about green issues is a well-timed and populist move.

With a UN Climate Change conference right on the doorstep, in Glasgow, in November, Johnson is clearly keen to seem like an ardent fan, so appearing alongside Attenborough is great publicity for the government.

Given that Scotland was clearly not a fan of the prime minister in the general election and are murmuring again about the need for independence from the Union, it is hardly surprising that Boris is trying to position himself at the head of the upcoming conference .

Yesterday the PM confirmed the he would be bringing forward a ban on petrol and diesel cars to 2035, although Ireland, Holland and Sweden are currently aiming for five years earlier.

It is this policy decision which has gained the support of Attenborough and will be an enormous boost for the PM, and the Tory party.

Attenborough has made many impassioned speeches about “the moment of crisis “, in the world’s ecology and has insisted that human beings can “no longer prevaricate”, although some might suggest that the prime minister has not gone far enough to comply with Attenborough’s demands.

Awkwardly there is currently no Energy Minister in situ to preside over the UN conference, having sacked Penny O’Neil last week, but there are suggestions that Michael Gove might be given the role.

Green issues have never been the natural home of the Tories, but it seems now that they are having to catch up apace in the current climate.

Many will see these new inroads as cynical manoeuvring, but if you are asking for the support of a national treasure, you better keep to your promises or get severely burnt.

One of the reasons that Trump has been so slow in coming forward in the green debate, is that he relies so heavily on those citizens whose jobs are reliant on the production of fossil fuels.

Johnson will therefore have some skilful dance steps to learn if he is not to anger the president and keep a healthy trade deal, post Brexit, on the table.

Apparently the PM will announce his new targets for the UK’s cars in a speech where he will advocate that, internationally, economies should seek to achieve zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.

It really does appear that Johnson is turning Green, although the cynical would suggest it is merely smoke and mirrors to hide the blue EU flag which could be featuring very prominently in the next ten months.

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