Rishi Sunak is facing a major crisis over the Tories’ Net Zero agenda as he prepares to water down their flagship environmental policies.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson warned the government not to ‘falter now or in any way lose our ambition for this country’ with Mr Sunak expected to delay bans on new petrol car sales and gas boiler installation.
At the same time, former Tory environment minister Zac Goldsmith went even further and demanded a snap general election over plans designed to help families with the cost-of-living crisis.
The announcement, which was expected to be unveiled later this week, was brought forward after it was leaked overnight, provoking a fierce Conservative rift.
Figures from the right of the party welcomed the expected slowdown, delaying the ban on new diesel and petrol cars from 203 to 2035 and watering down bans on oil and gas boilers and home insulation.
Ex-business secretary Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg warned that his constituents were ‘cold and poor’ and could do without additional costs.
But Lord Goldsmith said the decision vindicated his decision to quit with a blast at Mr Sunak’s green credentials earlier this year.
‘I hoped it would add pressure on the government to prove me and others wrong.,’ he said. ‘We need an election. Now.’
And in a statement Mr Johnson – who was forced from No10 after Mr Sunak resigned as chancellor last year, said: ‘This country leads on tackling climate change and in creating new green technology.
‘The green industrial revolution is already generating huge numbers of high quality jobs and helping to drive growth and level up our country.
‘Business and industry – such as motor manufacturing – are rightly making vast investments in these new technologies.
‘It is those investments that will produce a low carbon future – at lower costs for British families.
‘It is crucial that we give those businesses confidence that government is still committed to net zero and can see the way ahead.
‘We cannot afford to falter now or in any way lose our ambition for this country.’
The Prime Minister will give a speech this afternoon in which he is expected to confirm the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars will be postponed for five years to ease the financial burden on voters.
In a live televised press conference he is also expected to slow the phasing-out of gas boilers in homes in order to cut costs for consumers.