The public face of the British government’s Cop26 UN climate change conference has said she won’t get an electric car yet because they take too long to charge, so she’ll stick to her old diesel car, instead.
Allegra Stratton, the establishment media veteran who formerly was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s press secretary, defended her decision to keep her “third-hand” eight-year-old diesel Volkswagen Golf, because she would need to stop during her long trips to visit family to charge an electric car, which could risk waking her children from their naps.
“I don’t fancy [an electric car] just yet,” the government’s green cheerleader told Times Radio in comments reported by The Times on Tuesday. She said that she would consider buying one if “the stop times for recharging improve so much that it’s half an hour”.
Stratton, who lives in the north London borough of Islington, home to Britain’s metropolitan elite, continued to imply that an electric car would not last the journeys to her relatives who live “mostly 200, 250 miles away”.
“Right now, if I had one, any of those journeys to my dad in south Scotland, my mum in Gloucestershire, my in-laws in the Lake District and my gran in north Wales, they’re all journeys that I think would be at least one quite long stop to charge. And my kids are seven and four and I don’t fancy it just yet,” Ms Stratton said.
“Sometimes when you’ve got a four-year-old in the car, they’re asleep and you just want to keep going to get there because you know, if they wake up they’ll want the loo, they’ll want food, they might be feeling carsick and so on,” she added.
Despite being Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s climate spokesman, Stratton has fallen into the category of those accused of spreading “myths” about electric vehicles, including by Edmund King of the Automobile Association (AA) and Toddington Harper, the chief executive of Gridserve, which operates fast charging points at motorway services stations that reportedly only take half an hour.
Getting Britons on board to back electric cars is a significant goal for the Johnson administration, particularly given that in 2019, the Conservative government announced that, as part of the country’s “Green Industrial Revolution”, buying new fossil fuel cars from 2030 would be illegal.
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Ms Stratton’s admission comes after she had claimed that the Conservative government’s commitment to going ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050 was “too far away”.
“The science is clear… we have to be changing our carbon emissions right now so that we can stop the temperature increase by 2030,” Stratton had said.
The climate cheerleader also caused embarrassment to the Johnson administration when, late last month, she said that people concerned about climate change should “join Greenpeace, they can join the Green Party” — before adding they could also join the Conservative Party that runs the government she represents.
Stratton became the first official White House-style press secretary for the prime minister last year. She is a former journalist who had worked with establishment outlets The Guardian, the BBC, and ITV. Despite spending £2.6 million on furnishing a press room, the government scrapped the plans in April, moving Stratton to the role of the Cop26 spokeswoman, with the conference taking place in November of this year.
The Times claimed in May that Johnson appointed the former journalist at the insistence of his then-fiancée Carrie Symonds, herself a keen environmentalist.
The newspaper of record alleged the hiring took place despite the interview panel recommending against it, with leaked remarks calling Stratton a “risky appointment” and voters allegedly preferring Ellie Price, the panel’s first-choice candidate.
“The PM said it would make his life too difficult. Carrie won’t accept it if it’s anyone else. He said, ‘I’ve promised this to her’,” a Whitehall source told The Times, with a second source saying: “Boris said Carrie would go bananas if she didn’t get her way.”
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