No10 seeking to cut Sturgeon from Cop26 to stop her 'using it as advert for independence'

5 September 2021, 07:54 | Updated: 26 October 2021, 14:33

No10 is said to be trying to keep Nicola Sturgeon out of the limelight at Cop26
No10 is said to be trying to keep Nicola Sturgeon out of the limelight at Cop26. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

No10 will try to cut Nicola Sturgeon out of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow to stop her from using it as "an advert for an independence campaign", according to leaked messages.

No10 and Cabinet Office advisers are seeking to side-line the role of the Scottish First Minister at the global climate gathering, according to a report in the Independent.

Meeting notes and WhatsApp messages seen by the newspaper suggest strategists have been trying to work out how to prevent the summit from becoming an "advert" for Scottish independence.

Responding to the reports, Ms Sturgeon said anyone who lets politics get in the way of tackling climate change would be "abdicating" responsibility.

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She wrote on Twitter: "All that matters is that COP26 delivers an outcome to meet the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

"We must work together and maximise contributions towards that.

"Anyone - me or PM - who allowed politics to get in way would be abdicating that responsibility."

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Cop26 is due to take place in Glasgow for two weeks from 31 October and will see global leaders descend on the city.

But the leaked messages suggest advisers are planning to keep Prime Minister Boris Johnson from sharing a platform with Ms Sturgeon in the run-up to and during the event.

Mr Johnson should "neutralise" the First Minster by including other devolved leaders where possible, they said.

One adviser's message referring to Ms Sturgeon read: "This can be labelled as a role for her [as one of the UK's leaders] but avoids her taking centre stage."

Another said: "We can't let this be used as an advert for an independence campaign."

The notes also document efforts to ensure that the union flag is displayed as much as possible at the summit.