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Kemi's Zac attack: Badenoch slams Goldsmith as Tory rift widens after Sunak softens Net Zero stance

21 September 2023, 08:32 | Updated: 21 September 2023, 09:16

Kemi Badenoch has hit out at Tory Zac Goldsmith as rifts over Net Zero pledges deepen
Kemi Badenoch has hit out at Tory Zac Goldsmith as rifts over Net Zero pledges deepen. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Kemi Badenoch has risked further deepening the Tory rift over softening the government's Net Zero policies as she hit out at a wealthy Zac Goldsmith.

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The business secretary dismissed criticism from the Tory peer - elevated to the House of Lords by Boris Johnson - saying he has more money than most in the UK so he can afford the cost of environmental policies.

Rishi Sunak watered down the government's near-term plans to achieve Net Zero on Wednesday in a bid to spare families from the "unacceptable costs" they would impose.

But it has opened a divide within the party, with Boris Johnson telling the PM not to "falter" on key climate crisis initiatives.

Read more: Rishi’s green gamble: PM cuts ‘unacceptable costs’ for families as he scales back net zero targets on cars and boilers

Zac Goldsmith, who served as environment minister under Boris Johnson, blasted the eco u-turn and demanded: "We need an election. Now."

Badenoch showed no indication the government would back down despite yet another row within the Conservatives breaking out.

Kemi Badenoch reacts to Zac Goldsmith

"There are lots of Conservative MPs who are speaking very positively about this," she told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"Zac Goldsmith is somebody who cares very much about the environment, he is a friend of mine, but the fact is he has way more money than pretty much everyone in the UK.

"This is not how we make decisions - we need to make decisions based on what the facts are, and the facts are energy costs are rising, the facts are as I said last week, you look at the economic challenge that China is creating all around the world, electric vehicles rely on Chinese batteries, the supply chain post-pandemic is changing."

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former business secretary himself, said her comments were "unfair on Zac", whom he described as a "very principled man".

"I think his view on net zero is not proportionate to what the economy can bear or to what other countries are doing," Sir Jacob told Nick.

"And there’s no point in the UK shutting down its economy with 1% of global emissions if other countries aren’t."

Read more: Labour 'would reverse Rishi's Net Zero u-turn,' Shadow Environment Secretary confirms

Rishi Sunak's watering down of Net Zero schemes has opened another rift within his party
Rishi Sunak's watering down of Net Zero schemes has opened another rift within his party. Picture: Alamy
Zac Goldsmith has hit out at Rishi Sunak's plans
Zac Goldsmith has hit out at Rishi Sunak's plans. Picture: Alamy

She denied that Rishi Sunak was also out of touch given he is one of Britain's richest men because the two men are doing "quite different things".

He will delay the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars until 2035 and announced he will give people "far more time" to change over to heat pumps in their homes.

He also introduced a new exemption for households, and increased the boiler upgrade scheme from £5,000 to £7,500 with "no strings attached".

But he has insisted the target to achieve Net Zero by 2050 will still be aimed for despite the changes.

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