'Football trumps the environment': Nick Ferrari puts Thérèse Coffey on the spot over PM snubbing Cop27 conference

28 October 2022, 09:24

Environment Secretary confronted on why the PM isn't going to COP27

By Daisy Stephens

LBC's Nick Ferrari has put the Environment Secretary on the spot over Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's decision not to attend Cop27.

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It was announced yesterday that Mr Sunak would not attend the climate summit in Egypt next month, blaming "other pressing domestic commitments including preparations for the autumn Budget".

He has since been criticised for the decision, with Labour branding it a "massive failure of climate leadership" and Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, saying it shows he does not take the crisis "seriously enough".

Read more: Prince William 'won't travel to Qatar to watch England in the World Cup' amid concerns over human rights in the country

Read more: Gary Lineker leads fury after 'tone deaf' James Cleverly tells LGBT fans to 'compromise' at Qatar World Cup

Quizzing Dr Thérèse Coffey about it on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Nick compared it to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly's decision to attend the World Cup in Qatar despite allegations about human rights abuses in the country.

"Let me get this straight then," he said.

"So the Prime Minister won't go to Cop27 to do with the environment, but the Foreign Secretary will go to Qatar for the World Cup and football.

"So clearly football is more important than the environment to this government."

Dr Coffey said "that's not the case" and criticised the comparison.

'Which is the greater threat Vladimir Putin or climate change?'

Nick went on: "Well, the Foreign Secretary is going to the World Cup so he can meet with other interlocutors - his exact words, with his fellow interlocutors.

"So he's off to Qatar.

"But the Prime Minister won't go to Egypt.

"So football trumps the environment."

Read more: 'I've got real work to do': Foreign Sec makes cutting jibe at Keir Starmer over World Cup boycott and says he'll attend

Read more: Keir Starmer will refuse to go to the World Cup in Qatar because of human rights - even if England get to the final

"No, that's not the case at all, Nick," said the Environment Secretary.

"The big political gatherings of the climate conference happen every five years usually.

"We hosted that in Glasgow last year when heads of state and heads of government from around the world came together setting those new targets, making those new commitments.

"And in between you don't normally seem to see the same level of heads of state or heads of government attending."

She said Qatar was "another key global event that only happens every so often", and said it was "up to the Foreign Secretary to decide whether he attends or not".

Shelagh Fogarty caller says he wouldn't go to Qatar as a gay man

Mr Cleverly sparked controversy earlier this week when he said he may attend the games in Qatar - a country where homosexuality is illegal, and where around 6,500 migrant construction workers are alleged to have died during building of the stadium.

He also suggested gay football fans should be prepared to "compromise" if they wished to attend.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told LBC on Monday he and other senior figures in the party would be boycotting the games, prompting a jibe from Mr Cleverly about having "real work to do".

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