Boris Johnson has warned Rishi Sunak not to “falter” on key climate crisis initiatives, arguing that heaping uncertainty on businesses could drive up prices for British families.
The former prime minister told the Conservative leader that he cannot afford to “lose our ambition for this country” as he argued policies were generating jobs and driving growth.
His intervention came as the Prime Minister prepared to give a speech from Downing Street in which he will water down policies aimed at getting Britain to net zero.
The plans have caused a split among green-minded Tory MPs and those who want to stall green plans in a bid to save costs on families.
The car industry has also reacted angrily, with Ford warning that delaying the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles will “undermine” its needs from the Government.
In a statement, Boris Johnson said that businesses “must have certainty about our net zero commitments”.
“The green industrial revolution is already generating huge numbers of high quality jobs and helping to drive growth and level up our country,” he added.
“Business and industry – such as motor manufacturing – are rightly making vast investments in these new technologies.
“It is those investments that will produce a low-carbon future – at lower costs for British families.
“It is crucial that we give those businesses confidence that government is still committed to net zero and can see the way ahead.
“We cannot afford to falter now or in any way lose our ambition for this country.”
It was Boris Johnson who in 2020 announced plans to bring the ban on new cars being powered solely by fossil fuels to 2030.
But Mr Sunak is expected to announce putting this deadline back by five years among a raft of measures that are alarming environmentalists.
Boris Johnson ally and prominent Tory environmentalist Lord Zac Goldsmith went as far as to demand a general election over the “economically and ecologically illiterate decision”.
The peer, who quit as environment minister in June with a scathing attack on Mr Sunak’s environmental “apathy”, described it as a “moment of shame” for the UK.
However, not all of Boris Johnson’s allies agreed.
Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, who served in his cabinet as one of his most ardent supporters, called Boris Johnson a “net zero zealot”.
He backed Mr Sunak’s plans to water down measures, with the Prime Minister still voicing commitment to reaching carbon neutrality in 2050.
Sir Jacob told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “I’ve never been as much of a net zero zealot as Boris is.
“I mean, he genuinely believes in a more high wire approach in this area.
“I like to have a safety net under any high wire and I think what the Government’s doing now is using the safety net. And I think it’s absolutely right. I could not be more supportive of what the Prime Minister is doing under these circumstances.”
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