Does Keir Starmer really hate tree huggers?

Voters don’t like them much either, says Sean O’Grady

Monday 10 July 2023 22:35 BST
The Labour leader during a visit to Whitelees wind farm in Scotland
The Labour leader during a visit to Whitelees wind farm in Scotland (PA)

Reports suggest that Sir Keir Starmer attended a shadow cabinet presentation by Ed Miliband on the climate crisis and commented afterwards that he wasn’t interested in hope and change but more interested in creating sustainable new jobs. The quoted source added: “He then said he was not interested in tree huggers, before adding to everyone’s surprise, ‘In fact, I hate tree huggers’.”

It’s a curious echo of the recent complaint made by Rishi Sunak’s environment minister Zac Goldsmith, who quit because “the problem is not that the government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our prime minister, are simply uninterested.” He added that Mr Sunak had displayed “apathy in the face of the greatest challenge we have faced”.

On the other hand, King Charles and President Biden on Monday sat through a joint presentation on the climate crisis by John Kerry, US special envoy, and Grant Shapps, environment secretary, which certainly does suggest a certain amount of determination.

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