Johnny Mercer Gets Burned Twice In A Row By George Monbiot On BBC Question Time

Tory minister Johnny Mercer faced a withering response – twice – after clashing with writer and activist George Monbiot on BBC Question Time over the government’s record on climate change.

Appearing on the broadcaster’s flagship politics show, which this week came from Petersfield, the pair clashed amid recent questions over Rishi Sunak’s commitment to the environment.

The prime minister was criticised for spending just 11 hours at the COP28 climate conference, though he argued the UK has a better track record than any other major economy in decarbonising.

Yet he has faced a backlash for scaling back a host of pledges designed to help the UK reach net zero by 2050 and vowed to “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves by granting new North Sea drilling licences.

After facing criticism on the BBC show, Conservative MP Mercer claimed that the government had made “extraordinary progress” on climate change.

But Monbiot responded: “No, extraordinary progress has not been made under this government. It has deliberately trashed some of the progress even that was made under Boris Johnson’s government.

“There are such simple things we could do. For example, the government is currently spending £78 billion across two years in subsidising people’s energy bills. But for £8 billion it could insulate the three million homes most in need. Greatly cutting people’s bills and greatly cutting our emissions.

“We now have a situation where renewables are much cheaper than fossil fuels but the government is deliberately trying to lock us into fossil fuels, not for the sake of the people of this country, not to cut our bills, it does exactly the opposite, for the sake of the oil and gas industry. The Tory party has taken £3.5 million in donations from polluting industries. This is the quid pro quo.”

Mercer then asked: “Do you honestly sit there and think that in Number 10 every day, the prime minister and the government wake up and think, we are just going to torch the world?”

Monbiot replied: “Yes, roughly.”

He added: “They just don’t care. The fact is they don’t care. Sunak flew to COP28 in a 200-seater jet, but he was the only minister who flew in that jet. Other ministers flew in a separate private jets.

“He doesn’t care. He treats this whole country like a flyover state, going backwards and forwards in his helicopters and private jets.”

Monbiot also picked apart the “sadistic” government’s Rwanda deportation policy, arguing the driving force was to “performatively beat up some of the most vulnerable and traumatised people on earth”.