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Boris Johnson sacks UN climate summit president Claire Perry O’Neill

2 min read

The Prime Minister has sacked the woman in charge of running the UN climate summit in Glasgow later this year.

Claire Perry O’Neill, a former energy minister, has been removed from her post as the ‘president’ of the COP 26 event as the Government announced the job will now be managed by the Business Department (BEIS). 

In response, Ms Perry O’Neill wrote on Twitter: “Very sad that the role I was offered by Boris Johnson last year has now been rescinded as Whitehall ‘can’t cope’ with an Indy cop unit.

"A shame we haven’t had one Climate cabinet meeting since we formed. Wishing the cop team every blessing in the climate recovery emergency.”

At the last UN Summit, based in Madrid in December, she played a prominent role for the UK. 

The Government gave no official reason for her dismissal but The Guardian reported that Ms Perry O’Neill’s poor performance at Davos and a recent ministerial visit to India, in which she repeatedly said ‘the Paris agreement is dead’, had raised concerns over her suitability for the diplomatic climate summit job.

In November 2018, during her time as energy minister, three civil service unions wrote a joint letter to Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary at BEIS, claiming that Ms Perry O’Neill bullied and shouted at civil servants. 

Amid rumours that Zac Goldsmith could be given the role, Tom Burke, the co-founder of E3G environmental group, suggested that former Conservative party leaders William Hague or Michael Howard should be chosen as Perry O’Neill’s replacement to signify Mr Johnson’s seriousness about the summit. 

A Cabinet Office statement said: “The Prime Minister is grateful to Claire for her work preparing for what will be a very successful and ambitious climate change summit in Glasgow in November.

“Preparations will continue at pace for the summit, and a replacement will be confirmed shortly.

“Going forward, this will be a ministerial role.”

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