Boris Johnson offers role to Nicola Sturgeon in COP26

Boris Johnson has said the First Minister will play a “huge role” at the UN climate summit in Glasgow, despite once declaring he didn’t “want to see Nicola Sturgeon anywhere near it”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves as he boards the vessel Alba in Fraserburgh Harbour, Aberdeenshire, which will transport him to the Moray Offshore Windfarm East during his visit to Scotland.

During his visit to Scotland the Prime Minister said there would be a role for all the leaders of UK governments to ensure “every part of the UK” was working together to tackle the climate crisis.

He also rejected an accusation he had “snubbed” Ms Sturgeon by declining to meet her at Bute House to discuss the Covid pandemic response.

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Mr Johnson said his trip was focused on preparations for the COP26 summit, due to be held in November, and he was meeting with Police Scotland and other agencies to ensure the UK would be ready to greet global dignitaries.

Relations between the UK and Scottish governments had previously soured over the international conference when a row broke out over the booking of key venues, while Mr Johnson had also told a Conservative Party conference fringe event in 2019, that the First Minister would not be allowed into the conference.

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At the time he said: "I don't mind seeing a Saltire or two but I want to see the Union flag and I don't want to see Nicola Sturgeon anywhere near it. The Scottish Nationalist Party didn't secure that summit in London, it was the United Kingdom government.”

However he has now reversed that position and said “of course there’s going to be a role for Nicola, for Mark Drakeford, for everybody in the COP26.”

He added: "It’s a huge undertaking by the whole of the UK. Every part of the UK is now working together.

"What we’ve got to do is, we’ve got to lead the world to get everybody to commit to net zero by 2050. I hope very much that the First Minister, along with all her colleagues around the UK, at whatever level in government, will evangelise, will exhort everybody that she represents and they represent to do the needful.”

The Prime Minister is on a two-day visit to Scotland, which began on Wednesday with a visit to Police Scotland's Tulliallan training college in Fife.

On Thursday he boarded a ship at Fraserburgh harbour on his way to visit an offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth, along with business minister Kwasi Kwarteng.

The Prime Minister is heading to the Moray East wind farm development, which is currently under construction.

His trip comes as his personal popularity, as well as that of the government, suffered a sharp decline in a new poll which suggested Conservative voters are becoming more pessimistic about the direction of the country.

Just 27 per cent of those questioned said they had a favourable opinion of Mr Johnson – down six points since June – while numbers viewing him unfavourably were unchanged at 47 per cent, giving him an overall rating of minus 20. The PM's favourability among Conservative supporters dropped 10 points, though a majority (58 per cent) are still positive towards him.

Both Mr Johnson and UK Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, are visiting renewable energy projects in Scotland this week ahead of the COP26 climate conference.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister promised that "all the money that is needed" will be given to fund the thousands of officers required to police the massive event, while Sir Keir attacked him as being "missing in action" in the lead-up to the summit, and said there needed to be a firm timetable laid out to end the extraction and exploration of oil and gas in the North Sea, partnered with a "truly just transition".

He has also called for "rapid green investment" across the UK as new figures revealed more than 75,000 green jobs have been lost over the past five years.

The Labour leader said the UK had to "lead by example" on the climate crisis and invest more in jobs in renewable energy and technology via a "Green New Deal".

Figures from the Office for National Statistics cited by Labour show a loss of 33,800 "direct" jobs and a further 41,400 jobs in the supply chain for low-carbon and renewable sectors between 2014 and 2019.

This includes thousands of fewer jobs in solar power, onshore wind, renewable electricity and bioenergy.

Sir Keir said: "Tackling the climate crisis must be at the heart of everything we do. We are at a critical moment. In less than 100 days, Cop26 will be over and our chance to keep the planet's warming below 1.5 degrees will have either been grasped or abandoned.

"The UK must rise to this moment and lead by example. That means rapid action to create good, green jobs across the country. And it means a proper strategy to buy, make and sell more in Britain, to create good, unionised jobs in clean energy and through supply chains."

Labour has called for £30bn in planned investment to be brought forward to support up to 400,000 jobs in manufacturing and low-carbon industries.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson said: "As we build back better and greener from the pandemic, this Government is firmly committed to seizing the economic opportunities presented by the transition to a green economy.

"The data from 2019 and 2014 cannot be compared as there was a change in how the survey was conducted. In fact, ONS has concluded that the low-carbon and renewable energy economy has remained stable.

"We have welcomed the recommendations put forward by the Green Jobs Taskforce, which are a big step forward in delivering the skilled workers and green jobs essential for the UK's transition to net zero.

"This will now be considered by the Government, starting with the development of the our Net Zero Strategy, due to be published ahead of the UN's climate summit Cop26 in Glasgow this November."

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