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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Dan Bloom

Ex-Cabinet minister quits Tories with stinging rebuke and heaps praise on Keir Starmer

A former top minister tonight quit the Tories with a stinging rebuke - and lavished praise on Keir Starmer.

Claire Perry O’Neill, the Tory MP for Devizes from 2010 to 2019, said the Conservatives are now “dominated by ideology and self-obsession”.

She said Rishi Sunak is unable to deliver change in a “fact-based, competent way” due to the state of the party.

She added the Tories’ “often cavalier approach to business and academia” has “damaged our ability to deliver the energy system we need.”

By contrast, the ex-minister - who attended Cabinet under Theresa May, but who Boris Johnson sacked as COP26 climate summit president in 2020 - said she wanted to “applaud” Keir Starmer and Labour.

She wrote in The Times: “Building a low-carbon, secure, affordable energy system for the UK is an immense challenge that needs sober, fact-driven, competent political leadership.

“I sense that is exactly what we will get should Labour win the next general election.”

After she stood down as an MP, Ms O'Neill was due to be President of the 2021 COP 26 UN climate summit in Glasgow.

But days before the summit’s launch by Boris Johnson and Sir David Attenborough, she was sacked by the PM's special adviser, Dominic Cummings.

Sources in the COP26 unit questioned her suitability for the job and the President role was changed to be a government minister, Alok Sharma.

In the wake of the sacking, she claimed Boris Johnson secretly admitted he "doesn't get" climate change, and lashed out at the "huge lack of leadership" from the Tory government.

She told the BBC: “He has admitted to me that he doesn't really understand it. He doesn't really get it, I think is what he said."

Claire Perry during her days as an energy minister (Dan Kitwood)

She also slammed "defamatory" attacks on her ability for the role at the time.

In today’s article, the former minister said energy “gets little political attention.

“There is a deadly mismatch between the short-term political cycle and a decades-long investment model for energy assets.”

She added: “The less sexy but vital stuff that needs careful, joined-up, long-term planning has been consistently neglected.

“We have failed to plan for and invest in an energy grid capable of supporting a massive ramp up in renewable energy generation or long-duration storage.”

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