Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has called for Rishi Sunak to ditch “high-cost green policies” in the wake of the surprise Conservative win at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election.
While the Tories suffered substantial defeats in the ‘safe’ seats of Selby and Ainsty and Somerton and Frome, their win in Boris Johnson’s former constituency was credited to a campaign centred on opposing Sadiq Khan’s expansion of London’s Ultra-low Emissions Zone (Ulez). Under the policy around 10% of London’s drivers will be charged £12.50 per day in a bid to lower air pollution.
Sir Jacob, the former Business Secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
You should learn from where the Government has done surprisingly well against the form book, and learn there that high-cost green policies are not popular.
I think the Government should take away the power for these Ulezes which is provided for by legislation… You should go with the grain of what voters are doing anyway. Voters are year in, year out buying cleaner cars with cleaner engines. The development of engines in recent decades have been phenomenal.
Sir John Redwood, Margaret Thatcher’s one-time policy chief, added: “Will Mayor Khan cancel Ulez now voters have told him how unpopular it is? After winning Uxbridge by speaking out against Ulez, will the Government now act to stop so many attacks on motorists?”
Lord Frost, Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, wrote on Twitter: “The lesson is surely that green policies are very unpopular when there’s a direct cost to people – as indeed all the polling says. This time that hit Labour. But soon it could be us unless we rethink heat pumps and the 2030 electric car deadline.”
The lesson is surely that green policies are very unpopular when there’s a direct cost to people – as indeed all the polling says.
This time that hit Labour. But soon it could be us unless we rethink heat pumps & the 2030 electric car deadline.
— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) July 21, 2023