A controversial Conservative Euro MP has careered into a clash with a bishop over his claim that the Church of England has "abandoned religion" to preach the gospel of climate change.
Roger Helmer, Tory MEP for the East Midlands, has infuriated the Church with the accusation that it is more interested in "climate alarmism" than its traditional teachings.
The climate-change sceptic, who sparked fury recently by claiming homophobia did not exist, also questioned the Church's political leanings. The broadside, in a local newspaper in the run-up to the Copenhagen summit, last night provoked outrage from political opponents – and the Bishop of Leicester.
The Rt Rev Tim Stevens said he was "surprised and saddened" at the attack. He also said Mr Helmer had failed to express his "extraordinary view that the earth is cooling" when he took up an invitation to debate climate change in Leicester Cathedral.
The Bishop was responding to a letter in the Leicester Mercury, in which Mr Helmer referred to the children's writer GP Taylor's decision to join the Catholic Church, "saying that 'the CofE is a sinking ship that has become the spiritual arm of New Labour'".