Minister denies Truss banned the King from Cop27 climate change summit

Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke said the decision that Charles would not go to Egypt was ‘amicably’ agreed with Buckingham Palace.

02 October 2022

A Cabinet minister has denied claims that Liz Truss ordered the King to stay away from next month’s Cop27 climate change summit in Egypt amid questions over her Government’s commitment to the net-zero target.

Buckingham Palace confirmed that Charles will not be attending the international gathering in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, despite his longstanding and passionate commitment to environmental issues.

The Sunday Times reported that the decision not to go was taken after the Prime Minister raised objections during an audience with the monarch at the Palace last month.

Charles addressing the Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow
Charles addressed the Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow last year (Yves Herman/PA)

However, Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke said the decision had been mutually agreed by the Government and the Palace, while ministers insisted they remain committed to the target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“It’s been clear this is a decision that has been made consensually between the King and the Government,” Mr Clarke told Times Radio.

“That is a decision that has been made amicably, as far as I am aware, between the Palace and the Government. The suggestions this morning that he was ordered to stay away are simply not true.”

Earlier, a No 10 source said it is “ridiculous” to suggest that the Prime Minister “gives orders” to the monarch.

By convention, all overseas official visits by members of the royal family are undertaken in accordance with advice from the Government.

Before he ascended the throne, there had been speculation, that, as Prince of Wales, Charles would go to Egypt, having addressed the Cop26 summit in Glasgow the previous year.

His elder son, William, the then Duke of Cambridge, also spoke at the event, while the Queen recorded an opening address urging world leaders to take action on climate change.

However, a Government source said the Palace and the Government “considered separately and then agreed jointly” that there might be “more suitable options” for Charles’s first overseas visit as monarch.

Regional cabinet meeting – Bristol
Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke said the decision that Charles would not go to Egypt was mutually agreed by the Government and Buckingham Palace (Steve Parsons/PA)

Mr Clarke said: “I think it is very different when you are the host country for a major event like Cop to have the head of state involved as opposed to the head of state going to what is an event being hosted in Egypt.

“It is the normal course of matters that this would be handled by the Government rather than by the monarchy.”

Despite not attending the event in person, it is understood that the King still hopes to be able to contribute to the conference in some way.

While Boris Johnson became an enthusiastic advocate for the cause of net zero, Ms Truss is thought to be more sceptical of the green agenda, a suspicion that is likely to be fuelled by the latest disclosure.

Cabinet meeting
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has blamed ‘climate alarmism’ for high energy prices (Victoria Jones/PA)

There was dismay among activists when she appointed Jacob Rees-Mogg – who has blamed “climate alarmism” for high energy prices – as Business Secretary with overall responsibility for energy policy.

However, Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “The Government remains committed to the net-zero target by 2050.”

Mr Clarke added: “Net zero is not only the right thing to do ecologically and environmentally, it is the right thing to do economically.

“The opportunities of moving to a net-zero economy are absolutely enormous.”

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