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“No true friends in politics”

In my December diary I pointed out that there might be problems ahead for the woman who had been appointed in the summer by Prime Minister Johnson to be president of the big fortnight-long multinational climate change conference, due to be held in Glasgow this November.

I warned that Claire Perry O’Neill might not survive in post to complete the job.

How prescient my warnings are proving to be. I expressed concern that all her predecessors running these annual “Conference of the Parties” events had invariably been either heads of, or at minimum senior ministers in, the host government. I reported that our co-hosts, the Italian government, were already offended that somebody who was no longer a Member of Parliament, let alone a senior minister, had been nominated. I mused that their anger might be abated were Claire to become a Baroness. After all, everybody loves a Lady.

But the New Year’s Honours List did not contain her name. Instead she received a Friday night telephone call from Johnson’s Rasputin, the odious Dominic Cummings. He told her she had been fired, apparently because she wasn’t a trained diplomat – an omission of which Johnson presumably was aware when he had appointed her. No replacement was named.

Just before, the former Conference President had warned in a BBC interview that there would be just “one shot” of success at this conference. If it failed, “it could mark the end of the global approach to tackling the problem of climate change”. We have been warned.


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