'Heatwave could have caused my downfall as PM,' jokes Boris Johnson

7 November 2022, 12:42

Boris Johnson has said the heatwave this summer could have contributed to his downfall
Boris Johnson has said the heatwave this summer could have contributed to his downfall. Picture: New York Times/Getty

By Kit Heren

Boris Johnson joked that the extreme heatwave this summer in London could have brought about his downfall as Prime Minister.

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Speaking at the Cop27 global climate summit in Egypt on Monday, Mr Johnson said the 40 degree weather in the UK could have caused the "unexpected political turmoil" this summer.

Mr Johnson's tenure as PM ended in July as a wave of ministers tendered their resignation in response to the revelations that he had known about claims of sexual misconduct of a government whip before appointing him.

Cop27 is taking place in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt
Cop27 is taking place in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Picture: Getty

Speaking at the summit, Mr Johnson also denied claims that his attendance at Cop27 was an attempt to overshadow current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, his leadership rival this time around, who at first planned not to go to the climate summit.

Mr Johnson said: "Temperatures in London this July reached 40 degrees, which is unprecedented and almost unbearable by United Kingdom standards – perhaps even contributing, who knows, to unexpected political turmoil that we saw in Westminster at that time."

Speaking at a fringe event within the climate summit, Mr Johnson also warned the fight against climate change had become a "collateral victim" of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, with countries questioning the goal of cutting emissions at a time of soaring energy prices.

Mr Johnson stepped down as Prime Minister in July
Mr Johnson stepped down as Prime Minister in July. Picture: Getty

In a swipe at Tories - including successor Liz Truss - he warned against calls to revive fracking in the UK.

Ms Truss had planned to lift the ban on fracking in England but Mr Sunak reinstated it.

"There are people who have drawn the conclusion that the whole project of net zero needs to be delayed, mothballed and put on ice - for instance we need to reopen coal-fired power stations and frack the hell out of the British countryside," he said.

The former prime minister said the summit in Egypt was a time to "tackle this nonsense head on".

This caller says the UK has 'done more than enough' and calls COP27 'vile'.

"Yes, of course, we do need to use hydrocarbons in the transitional period and, yes, in the UK there is more that we can do with our own domestic resources," he said.

"However, this is not the moment to abandon the campaign for net zero, this is not the moment to turn our backs on renewable technology."

Mr Johnson also played down the idea that richer countries should help developing states financially - so-called 'reparations' - with the transition to net zero.

Ferrari grills minister on Sunak's Cop27 U-turn

He said no countries, including the UK, had the "financial resources" to pay reparations. He called for governments to "look to the future" with technological solutions instead.

Mr Sunak had originally not intended to travel to Egypt, arguing his priority was to sort out the estimated £50 billion black hole in the public finances ahead of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's autumn statement on November 17.

But he was forced into what opposition parties called a "screeching U-turn" after coming under fire from within his own party, as well as from environmentalists questioning his commitment to the net zero agenda.

Rishi Sunak at Cop27 on Monday
Rishi Sunak at Cop27 on Monday. Picture: Getty

Mr Sunak said: "The world came together in Glasgow with one last chance to create a plan that would limit global temperature rises to 1.5C. The question today is: can we summon the collective will to deliver on those promises?

"I believe we can. By honouring the pledges we made in Glasgow, we can turn our struggle against climate change into a global mission for new jobs and clean growth.

"And we can bequeath our children a greener planet and a more prosperous future. That's a legacy we could be proud of.

Downing Street said Mr Sunak will announce a further £65.5 million for the clean energy innovation facility which provides grants to researchers and scientists in developing countries working on clean technologies - from biomass-powered refrigeration in India to lithium-ion batteries in Nigeria.

The UK is also committing £90 million for conservation in the Congo Basin rainforest and £65 million to support indigenous and local forest communities as Mr Sunak launches a new group to track commitments made in Glasgow on deforestation.