Moment Boris Johnson tells Tory activists in 2019 he doesn’t want Nicola Sturgeon ‘anywhere near’ Cop26 amid claims No10 wants to cut her out to prevent her using climate summit to advertise independence campaign
- Boris Johnson told 2019 event he wanted to exclude Ms Sturgeon from Cop26
- Advisers at No 10 are seeking to sideline Ms Sturgeon, according to messages
- ‘We can’t let this be used as an advert for an independence campaign’, one said
- Another plan was to include other UK leaders to stop her taking ‘centre stage’
Speaking at an event at the Conservative Party conference, the Prime Minister said: ‘I don’t mind seeing a Saltire or two but I want to see the Union flag and I don’t want to see Nicola Sturgeon anywhere near it.’
Video footage of the PM’s remarks resurfaced as it was claimed Downing Street is seeking to cut Ms Sturgeon out of the summit to prevent her using it as an advert for her Scottish independence campaign.
Leaked messages suggested advisers at Number 10 and the Cabinet Office have been plotting to sideline the role of Scotland’s First Minster at the global gathering which is set to take place in Glasgow in November.
According to meeting notes and WhatsApp messages, strategists have been trying to work out how to prevent the summit from becoming an ‘advert’ for Scottish independence.
Advisers at No 10 and the Cabinet Office have been seeking to side-line Ms Sturgeon at this year’s climate change conference, according to leaked messages
Mocked up versions of the messages sent by advisers at No10 and the Cabinet Office
Mr Johnson told the BBC last month that he wanted Ms Sturgeon to play a role at the summit.
He said: ‘It’s a huge undertaking by the whole of the UK. I hope very much that the First Minister, along with all her colleagues around the UK, at whatever level in government, will evangelise, will exhort everybody she represents to do the needful.’
But one adviser’s message referring to Ms Sturgeon, seen by The Independent, read: ‘This can be labelled as a role for her [as one of the UK’s leaders] but avoids her taking centre stage.’
Another said: ‘We can’t let this be used as an advert for an independence campaign.’
The notes also document efforts to ensure that the Union flag is displayed as much as possible at the summit.
Responding to the reports, Ms Sturgeon said anyone who allows politics to get in the way of tackling climate change would be abdicating responsibility.
She wrote on Twitter: ‘All that matters is that COP26 delivers an outcome to meet the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
‘We must work together and maximise contributions towards that.
‘Anyone – me or PM – who allowed politics to get in way would be abdicating that responsibility.’
Mr Johnson should ‘neutralise’ the First Minster by including other devolved leaders where possible, the aides said
Cop26 is due to take place in Glasgow for two weeks from October 31, and will see global leaders descend on the city.
But the leaked messages suggest advisers are planning to ensure Mr Johnson does not share a platform with Ms Sturgeon during the event.
Mr Johnson should ‘neutralise’ the First Minster by including other devolved leaders where possible, they reportedly said.
Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon at war over Cop26 climate summit