George Osborne accused of secret war on PM's green policies as father-in-law is caught on video
Father-in-law tells undercover reporter how Chancellor plans to undermine Coalition environment policies
George Osborne’s father-in-law has fuelled the civil war within the Coalition Government - and between rival wings of the Conservative Party - over energy policy by claiming that the Chancellor is privately manoeuvring to undermine David Cameron’s climate change promises.
Secret filming shows Lord Howell, who also advises the Government on energy, and Peter Lilley, a senior Tory MP who is a climate change sceptic, claiming Mr Osborne shares their hostility to building more onshore wind-turbines.
“The Prime Minister is not familiar with these issues, doesn’t understand them… Osborne is of course getting this message and is putting pressure on,” Mr Osborne’s father-in-law Lord Howell told a a Greenpeace activist posing as an anti-wind farm lobbyist, who was covertly recording him.
The Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, is already in open conflict with one of his Tory deputies, John Hayes, over the issue, and more than 100 Tory MPs have publicly opposed the construction of more wind-farms.
British targets to cut the CO2 emissions scientists believe are causing global warming are “absurd”, he said.
Mr Lilley, who has just been appointed to the climate change select committee, struck a similar note, saying he believed the Chancellor “privately regrets all the [green] commitments that have been made”.
He claimed that Mr Osborne used the recent ministerial reshuffle to “get people into key positions who could begin to get the Government off the hook from the commitments it made very foolishly”.
He cited the example of Mr Hayes, but Tory opponents of energy policy were also cheered by the appointment of Owen Paterson two months ago as the Environment Secretary.
Mr Lilley claimed Mr Hayes was “prepared to duff up” Mr Davey on the issue of wind-farms and, in an unreleased piece of footage, ridiculed Greg Barker, a Tory energy minister, as “barking”, a “complete nutter” and “away with the fairies”.
Tonight Mr Osborne issued a statement insisting: “The Chancellor supports Government policy which has helped secure record investment into the UK energy infrastructure.”
Senior Liberal Democrat sources acknowledged the issue was causing tensions at the highest levels of Government and deterring investors in renewable energy. One source said: “I’m afraid the problem is coming from the Treasury. But it makes the Liberal Democrats in government more determined to deliver on the Coalition Agreement and ensure we secure investment in green energy and renewables.”
The tensions were underlined on Tuesday night when Mr Hayes claimed that once the wind-farms currently planned were built it would be “the end of the story” – a stance that put him directly at odds with Mr Davey who immediately slapped down his Tory deputy.
The Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris apologised for appearing to encourage a potential rival candidate – and opponent of wind-farms - in today’s Corby by-election.
He was secretly recorded by Greenpeace saying he “suggested” James Delingpole put himself forward as an independent to push the issue up the agenda and “cause some hassle” during the campaign.
Mr Heaton-Harris also said: “At the moment, it is still looking a lot better with Owen Paterson and John Hayes. I’ve still got Ed Davey to dump on from a height somewhere.”
Lord Howell, whose daughter Frances is married to the Chancellor, also risked stoking up diplomatic tensions with the Gulf state of Qatar by saying there was a strategic case for buying its gas as an alternative to renewables.
He said: “Qatar is a great place and it’s full of skyscrapers and rich people. But it’s also rather near to a lot of jihadists... If Qatar was just to - it’s about the size of Guildford - go into chaos, we would be up shit creek we really would.”
Tonight Mr Lilley said: “My remarks about George Osborne were taken from reading the newspapers. I don’t have any inside knowledge about what is going on in his head.”
He accepted he had not chosen his words about his fellow Tory Greg Barker very delicately, but added: “I don’t rate his political judgement very highly.”
Lord Howell could not be contacted for comment.
South Korea ferry: Vice principal rescued from sinking ship found hanged
Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
Peaches Geldof funeral: Private ceremony to be held at same place as her mother Paula Yates on Easter Monday
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...