Boris Johnson formally entered into office as the new Prime Minister of the UK on Wednesday the 24th of July. With a landslide victory over Jeremy Hunt, Boris was elected in by 0.13% of the British population. Yeah you read that right. Democracy at its finest.
So, as he struts into Number 10 with a spectacular array of racism, classism, misogyny and homophobia to toot it’s fair to say that many people across the country are not best pleased at the UK’s latest catastrophic blunder.
But what will this mean for the Environment?
Well it’s hardly shocking that Boris’s abominable track record stretches to the climate emergency. Having previously tried to claim that the Conservative Party had a “fantastic record” on environmental improvements, ne noted that the Tories had “done so many things… like reducing the use of plastic bags, or whatever”.
And if that isn’t enough to keep you awake at night, his message during his leadership campaign was how important it would be to “sell” the environment to young people. *insert vomit noises here*
Now, if you take everything Boris Johnson says at face value (which you shouldn’t) then that might be all fine and dandy. But the proof will be in the pudding and Boris’s voting record doesn’t scream “climate leader”. In fact, it screams quite the opposite, and his climate denial escapades have been revealed before.
Boris’s voting record shows very little information on the environment, as he often just hasn’t shown up. And unfortunately, when he has he almost consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change.
Now before we continue, now might be a good time to take a deep breath, boil the kettle and get comfortable. Because it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
After just one day in office Boris wasted no time appointing his new Cabinet (the group of ministers who will oversee various aspects of British governance). And BOY did he change things up.
Michael Gove, the previous Environment Secretary was pushed elsewhere, and replaced by Theresa Villiers.
Greg Clark has been booted out of his post as Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary to be replaced by Andrea Leadsom.
Claire Perry has stepped down from her position as Minister for Energy and Clean Growth (don’t start celebrating yet, it’s arguably worse) and from what we can work out, Chris Skidmore remains in her position after being appointed Interim Minister during her leave of absence in May.
And we’ve got Grant Shapps as Transport Secretary.
So first up under the microscope is Theresa Villiers. Our new Environment Secretary. After years of campaigning against Michael Gove’s attempts to cut climate change from the national curriculum the bar is pretty low - but given Boris’s disregard for our planet, it is unsurprising to see that she feels the same way.
A pro-fracker, with inconsistent action on the environment and a frankly embarrassing stance on Brexit. We won’t go so far as to say we want Gove back… but this appointment is far from promising.
Then we’ve got Andrea Leadsom. Having lost the Tory leadership bid twice now (ouch) she has stepped into a new role as BEIS secretary with a track record much like Villiers. Although, her words seemed to paint a better picture as she ran for Prime Minister with the promise to declare a climate emergency despite entering her role as Energy Minister in May 2015 stating:
“When I first came to this job one of my two questions was: 'Is climate change real?' and the other was 'Is hydraulic fracturing safe?' And on both of those questions I am now completely persuaded.”
Because we still aren’t sure what the heck is going on with the Secretary for Energy & Clean Growth, we will leave that turd for later and instead dive into detail on the new Transport Minister Grant Shapps. Like his cronies Grant has a rubbish track record on the Environment. While his transport voting record is slightly less devastating, a quick background check has us alarmed. It appears Grant wrote a book under a fake name on how to get stinking rich, patronised working class people, and was previously asked to step down over allegations of bullying. Sounds like a good egg right? Wrong.
Whatever your stance on politics, this Tory turmoil spells bad news for the environment at a time when environmental leadership is needed most. While the jury is still out on how long Boris will last, and there are ways to show our opposition to the new PM. What is clear from this new Cabinet is that we are going to have to fight harder than we ever have before.
The imminent climate emergency won’t wait for the next Cabinet, and it won’t wait for the UK Prime Minister to gather his thoughts. For those already suffering from the impacts of climate change, and for the marginalised groups who will suffer the most. We promise to do our absolute best to push for systems change in whatever ways we can. This series of unfortunate events doesn't represent the young people on the streets, and we won't stop fighting until it does.