London: An ally of former British prime minister Boris Johnson on Friday resigned as an environment minister, highlighting the “apathy” of the current government led by Rishi Sunak and accusing it of being “simply uninterested” towards climate issues.
Lord Zac Goldsmith, 48, who was a minister in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), was the only serving minister to be criticised by the cross-party committee.
“This government’s apathy in the face of the greatest challenge we have faced makes continuing in my current role untenable,” reads his resignation letter uploaded on social media.
However, Downing Street soon released Sunak’s response to Goldsmith which revealed that he had been asked to apologise to lawmakers for trying to undermine the House of Commons Privileges Committee investigating whether Johnson lied to Parliament over the partygate scandal, or COVID law-breaking government parties during the pandemic.
“You were asked to apologise for your comments about the Privileges Committee as we felt they were incompatible with your position as a minister of the Crown. You have decided to take a different course,” Sunak’s response reads.
The response indicates that Goldsmith’s decision was influenced largely by the call for an apology.
In the rest of the letter Sunak commends Goldsmith for his work as a Minister for the Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment and goes on to defend the government’s environmental record.
“We can be proud of the UK’s record as a world leader on net zero. We are going far beyond other countries and delivering tangible progress whilst bringing down energy bills.
“This government is also committed to leaving the environment in a better state than we found it, as set out in our Environmental Improvement Plan,” reads Sunak’s letter.
Earlier this month, the Privileges Committee found that Johnson did mislead Parliament, and recommended a 90-day suspension from Parliament, though he pre-empted the report and stepped down ahead of the report being officially released.
This week, the committee also said that Goldsmith and the other Johnson allies put “improper pressure” on committee members and mounted “vociferous attacks” on the committee on social media, radio and television.
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