Boris Johnson ‘will attend Cop27’: Downing Street ‘alarmed’ over reports former PM will travel to Egypt for climate summit – after Rushi Sunak was criticised for ruling out an appearance

  • Former PM is intending to travel to show solidarity in fight against climate crisis 
  • Mr Sunak, meanwhile, is facing criticism over his decision not to attend summit
  • Mr Johnson’s attendance may be seen as criticism of his former Chancellor
  • It comes after he dropped out of leadership race despite earning 102 supporters

Downing Street is ‘alarmed’ over reports that Boris Johnson plans to travel to Egypt for Cop27 – after Rishi Sunak provoked a row when he said he would not attend the event.

The former Prime Minister is understood to be intending to attend the meeting of world leaders to show solidarity with the fight against the climate crisis.

It comes as his Mr Sunak is facing accusations of a ‘massive failure of leadership’ and claims he will now be ‘missing in action’ on climate issues following his decision not to attend in order to focus on ‘other pressing domestic commitments’.

At the same time, Downing Street also confirmed that Mr Sunak had downgraded the status of climate minister Graham Stuart, who will no longer be attending Cabinet. Alok Sharma, the Cop-26 President, also lost his right to attend Cabinet meetings in the PM’s reshuffle this week.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s decision to attend may be seen both as a criticism of Mr Sunak and an attempt to remain in the forefront of Tory minds following his decision to drop out of the leadership race despite earning more than 100 supporters.

There are said to be high level rows in government over Mr Johnson’s intentions and efforts to convince him not to attend, The Guardian reports.

It comes as his Mr Sunak is facing accusations of a ‘massive failure of leadership’ over his decision not to attend the climate summit

The former Prime Minister is understood to be intending to attend the meeting of world leaders to show solidarity with the fight against the climate crisis

Then Chancellor Mr Sunak holds up a green briefcase as he arrives for a speech at the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November last year

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said it could not answer if the former PM plans to travel to Egypt.

A statement said: ‘The government is absolutely committed to supporting Cop27 and leading international action to tackle climate change and protect nature.

‘The UK will be fully represented by senior ministers, including the foreign, business and environment secretaries, as well as Cop president Alok Sharma. 

‘They will be working to ensure that countries continue to make progress on the groundbreaking commitments made at Cop26 in Glasgow.’

Senior government officials are understood to have been aware that Mr Johnson has been planning to attend for some time.

It comes as Mr Sunak is also standing by predecessor Liz Truss’s decision to stop King Charles from attending the climate summit, despite him ‘champing at the bit’ to go.

The new PM is facing pressure over his decision not to attend, despite Ms Truss having planned to travel to represent the UK there. Critics say it calls the new PM’s climate stance into question.

Mr Sunak is reportedly under pressure to let the King attend and allies have suggested he should let Charles go to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to combating climate change in the Prime Minister’s absence. 

Charles is said to be disappointed not to go, but understands his attendance would need the blessing of the government and will not force the issue with No10, The Times reported.

Labour’s shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband branded Mr Sunak’s non-attendance ‘a massive failure of leadership’.

Charles is said to be disappointed not to go, but understands his attendance would need the blessing of the government and will not force the issue with No10

A source told the newspaper: ‘He will be champing at the bit but knows it would need government blessing. The PM has reversed the fracking decision so this could be another smart environmentally focused move.’

King Charles, who holds climate issues close to his heart, also hopes to find a way to show his support, potentially through a message or convening discussions via video-link or telephone, The Telegraph reported.

US President Joe Biden is also reportedly planning to attend.

The summit’s Egyptian organisers have claimed about 90 heads of state had so far confirmed their attendance.

The Red Sea gathering will come 12 months after the UK hosted the Cop-26 summit in Glasgow, which was attended by a string of Cabinet ministers – including Mr Sunak himself as Chancellor.

Confirming Mr Sunak won’t be attending this year’s follow-up summit, a No10 spokeswoman said: ‘The PM is not expected to attend Cop27 and this is due to other pressing domestic commitments including preparations for the Autumn budget.

‘The UK will be fully represented by other senior ministers as well as the Cop President Alok Sharma.’

Downing Street insisted the PM remained ‘absolutely committed’ to supporting the climate conference and denied his decision to skip the summit signalled a downgrading of climate issues as a Government priority.

The No10 spokeswoman added: ‘We remain committed to net zero and to leading international and domestic action to tackle climate change.

‘The UK is forging ahead of many other countries on net zero.

‘We will obviously continue to work closely with Egypt as the hosts of Cop-27 and to make sure that all countries are making progress on the historic commitments they made at the Glasgow climate pact.’

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