In the last few hours on Tuesday the Government managed to get their Internal Market Bill passed for its third reading and so now it has moved over into the House of Lords and in due course we will discover how well they will be able to deal with it. On Saturday the Foreign Minister from Eire, Simon Coveney stated in an interview “what he [Johnson] is proposing to do is to pass legislation that undermines that agreement that found a way forward for everybody and that is what I think has been such a surprise and a disappointment for so many people because undoubtedly not only has this damaged the trust between the two negotiating teams but I think that the decision to introduce the internal market bill in the last few weeks is damaging Britain’s reputation globally” In the meantime on the same day there was a question from Caroline Lucas which was very straightforward and yet the response is equally concerning.
Last week, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will bring forward what he called a “very ambitious national contribution for COP26”. Can the Secretary of State confirm that that really means that the nationally determined contribution will be published this year and, crucially, that it will at the very least be aligned with 1.5° C?
The response came from Alok Sharma who was the Minister in the House of Commons at the time. His response was a bit concerning
I had the honour and pleasure of being questioned by the hon. Lady at a Select Committee in recent days. I repeat what I said then—that we are asking all countries to come forward with ambitious NDCs, and that I completely understand that there will be a requirement on the UK as well.
So it would appear that we have only just begun to consider this, which is concerning on several fronts, one of which was that originally COP26 was due to take place in November this year and so one would have assumed that we would have worked through these issues some time ago. In order to understand what Boris did say I checked Hansard and could not find his announcement and so far I have not found it in the internet either. However I did find a reference to COP26 which goes back to June when he stated
With permission, I will make a statement about the ambitions of a global Britain and the lessons of the covid-19 pandemic. We are living through a daily demonstration of how events on the far side of the world influence not only British security and prosperity, but something as elemental as the state of our health, and whether we can go to work or go shopping. This crisis offers vivid proof of the seminal importance of international engagement and exactly why our country must perform its global role. I have begun the biggest review of our foreign, defence and development policy since the end of the cold war, designed to maximise our influence and integrate all the strands of our international effort. The overriding aim is to bring this country’s strengths and expertise to bear on the world’s biggest problems, seizing the opportunities of Britain’s presidency of the G7 next year and the UN climate change conference—COP26—which we will host in Glasgow.
It is clear that this sort of statement on the ambitions of a global nation will have been seriously damaged as a result of the Internal Market Bill. Indeed there is a risk that by next year as we leave the EU that our economy may place us lower down the list of nations than we are at the present. Strictly speaking if we drop one more rung down we will be outside of G7 and G8 if it ever reappears!