'You're dodging the question': Minister swerves grilling about PM's private jet five times

4 November 2021, 09:35 | Updated: 4 November 2021, 09:55

By Daisy Stephens

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng clashed with Nick Ferrari on LBC this morning, avoiding a question about Boris Johnson's private plane back from COP26 five times.

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Nick asked Mr Kwarteng at breakfast today: "What do you suppose the image of the Conservative party is this morning, as we see that the Prime Minister - who's been lecturing us about having heat pumps in our back garden, wearing extra woolies and it's one minute to midnight - decided to use a private jet to get from Glasgow to London so he could have dinner with one of his chums at the Garrick Club.

"What does that look like to you?"

Mr Kwarteng said: "All I would say is that we had 120 world leaders here in Glasgow on Monday, an event which was extraordinary, unprecedented in our history, and all of those leaders, most of them, flew back to obviously where they come from. I don't know about the Prime Minister's dining arrangements."

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Nick outlined reports about how Boris Johnson landed at Stansted Airport and was escorted by two black range rovers to the Garrick Club in Covent Garden, where he met Lord Charles Moore, who used to be Mr Johnson's editor at the Daily Telegraph - a notorious climate-sceptic.

Nick then asked if Mr Kwarteng needed more information in order to answer the question, to which Mr Kwarteng said: "What I think does look very impressive is the fact that we've got 190 countries and institutions signed up to phasing coal out of electricity generation, I think the summit is very successful."

Nick accused Mr Kwarteng of "dodging the question", and again asked: "How does it look?"

Mr Kwarteng said: "What I'm saying, Nick, is that in the overall fight against climate change, no country is doing more than the UK and no leader, no global leader, is doing more to fight climate change."

Nick asked if that 'allowed' the Prime Minister to take a private jet, to which the Business Secretary replied: "It doesn't allow anyone to do anything."

"Ah, so you agree he shouldn't have taken a private plane?" Challenged Nick in his fourth attempt to gauge the minister's views on the Prime Minister's decision.

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"No, all I'm saying is that he came here on a plane and as I understand he flew back which is what every other leader pretty much did when they came here," said Mr Kwarteng.

"But that doesn't mean we're not seriously fighting climate change."

In a last ditch attempt, Nick then asked Mr Kwarteng to "accept" that it "is not a good look" for the Prime Minister to take a private jet from a climate change summit when other means of transport were available.

"All I'm saying is that we're working tirelessly to fight climate change, you want to talk about dinners and the Garrick club and all that sort of thing, I'm here to fight climate change and get global agreement," said Mr Kwarteng, leaving an exasperated Nick to move onto other COP26-related questions.