‘I hate tree huggers’: How Starmer apparently exploded over Labour’s green policy

The Labour leader’s outburst followed a presentation from climate and net zero spokesman Ed Miliband

Archie Mitchell
Monday 10 July 2023 16:05 BST
Sir Keir Starmer reportedly said he was ‘not interested in hope and change’
Sir Keir Starmer reportedly said he was ‘not interested in hope and change’ (PA)

Sir Keir Starmer said “I hate tree huggers” in an outburst that shocked his shadow cabinet, it has been claimed.

The Labour leader’s furious remark followed an animated presentation from climate and net zero spokesperson Ed Milibandsetting out his revolutionary energy policies.

Mr Miliband is said to have told his colleagues of the hope and change his policies would bring, receiving only a lukewarm reception from Sir Keir.

Sir Keir “thanked him for his presentation but said he wasn’t interested in hope and change”, according to a source.

The source told The Sunday Times: “He was more interested in creating sustainable new jobs to replace jobs in old sectors that were being lost. He then said he was not interested in tree huggers, before adding to everyone’s surprise, ‘In fact, I hate tree huggers’.”

His comments, at a meeting the day after Sir Keir gave a major speech on Labour’s energy policy, surprised some in the room.

The Labour leader and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves have faced a backlash from the left of the party over a decision to scale back plans for a £28bn “green prosperity plan”.

Shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband speaking at Glastonbury Festival (PA)

But Ms Reeves insisted on Sunday that she “cares passionately about tackling the climate emergency”. And while she said she “loves a tree”, she lashed out at “rude” environmental protesters such as Just Stop Oil who cause “needless disruption to people’s lives”.

Ms Reeves said there are “better ways to tackle the climate emergency than stopping working people getting to their jobs”.

Luke Tryl, UK director at the More in Common group, said Labour risked “throwing the baby out with the bath water” over climate issues. He said it “makes total sense” to condemn Just Stop Oil and Sadiq Khan’s expansion of London’s Ulez scheme.

“But if Labour strategists think climate isn’t a mainstream electoral issue, their assumptions about voters are a decade out of date,” Mr Tryl added.

A Labour source said: “He did not say those words.”

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