Boris Johnson’s new international trade secretary has been accused of climate emergency denial after a series of tweets came to light in which she insisted the world was not getting hotter and dismissed global warming campaigners as “fanatics”.
In the messages, sent between 2010 and 2012, Anne-Marie Trevelyan approvingly quoted the work of groups which have rejected the mainstream scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change.
And she stated that one such group had provided “clear evidence that the ice caps aren’t melting after all, to counter those gloom-mongers and global warming fanatics”.
Labour condemned the Berwick-upon-Tweed MP’s elevation to the cabinet just weeks ahead of the Cop26 UN conference being chaired by Boris Johnson in Glasgow this November, at which the prime minister is hoping to persuade countries from around the world to sign up to ambitious carbon-cutting targets.
Ms Trevelyan was promoted to the Department for International Trade brief on Wednesday from a more junior role in the business department where she had responsibility for clean growth.
Her controversial comments on climate change date back to before she entered parliament in 2015, but after she had fought the previous general election as a Tory candidate.
In one tweet, backing a campaign against wind farms in 2012, she said: “We aren’t getting hotter, global warming isn’t actually happening.”
And in another message she praised as “intelligent” an article about the “global warming myth” by the Climate Realists group, who argue that temperature rises cannot be blamed on manmade carbon emissions.
In 2011, she gave her support to outspoken climate emergency denier Lord Lawson for “hitting back” at then energy secretary Chris Huhne’s “ideological obsession with manmade climate change”.
Shadow international development secretary Emily Thornberry highlighted the string of messages, with the comment: “At least the last trade secretary only hired climate change deniers…”
She was referring to Ms Trevelyan’s predecessor Liz Truss, who hired former Australian PM and climate sceptic Tony Abbott as a UK trade envoy.
Ms Trevelyan later insisted she was “proud” of the government’s action on climate change and will make it “a priority” in her new job.
“This government is united in achieving our ambitious climate target goals,” said the international trade secretary.
“Having worked directly on Cop26, I am proud of what we have already done to tackle climate change and embrace a greener and cleaner future, including being the first major economy to legislate for a net zero target by 2050 and launching a bold plan for the UK’s world-leading hydrogen economy.
“As international trade secretary, climate change and protecting the environment will remain a priority as I negotiate ambitious trade deals around the world.”
Mr Johnson’s reshuffle continued into a second day on Thursday, with the prime minister finalising non-cabinet jobs and promoting a raft of female Conservative rising stars.
Former biomedical scientist Maggie Throup was made vaccines minister, following Nadhim Zahawi’s appointment yesterday as education secretary.
Lucy Frazer and Helen Whately move to the Treasury as financial secretary and exchequer secretary respectively, while barrister Victoria Atkins is promoted to minister of state at the Ministry of Justice.
Gillian Keegan was promoted to minister of state rank at the Department of Health (DHSC), while Chloe Smith moves from the Cabinet Office to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Other appointments included Alex Chalk as solicitor general and Conor Burns minister of state at the Northern Ireland Office. Robin Walker was moved from Northern Ireland to education. Justin Tomlinson left the Pensions department to become Tory Party deputy chair.
After sacking three cabinet ministers on Wednesday, Mr Johnson also ejected a raft of long-serving ministers of lower rank.
Downing Street confirmed that Nick Gibb was leaving the Department for Education (DfE) after 10 years as a schools minister. In a clear indication he had been sacked, the former minister said he was “sad” not to keep the post.
Also ousted were former culture secretary John Whittingdale, who had been a fierce critic of the BBC licence fee as media minister, and Jesse Norman, who leaves the Treasury after five years in government.
Fears that Mr Johnson’s new culture secretary Nadine Dorries intends to declare war on the BBC were stoked by a cabinet colleague, who said she would take on “crackpot” programmes funded by the licence fee-payer.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace suggested that Ms Dorries – a best-selling author of romantic fiction – was more in tune with the tastes of the British public than BBC executives.
“What’s great about Nadine Dorries is that she produces culture that people buy and actually want to see, rather than some of the more crackpot schemes we’ve seen being funded in the past by taxpayers money,” Mr Wallace told Sky News.
“I think she’ll bring realism to it.”
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