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Jeremy Corbyn calls for Ed Miliband to head up UN climate summit after David Cameron snub

Jeremy Corbyn calls for Ed Miliband to head up UN climate summit after David Cameron snub
3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has called for Ed Miliband to head up a major UN climate summit after David Cameron turned down the role.

The former Labour leader would be an "entirely suitable person" to chair the United Nations COP26 event in Glasgow later this year, Mr Corbyn Corbyn's spokesman said.

It comes after Mr Cameron and William Hague both turned down Boris Johnson's offer to take the top role at the crunch climate summit following the sacking of former Tory minister Claire O'Neill.

A furious Ms O'Neill later claimed Mr Johnson had admitted to her that he "doesn't really understand" climate change.

At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Mr Corbyn accused the Prime Minister of a "failure of leadership" over the handling of the talks.

"Considering his monumental failure in advance of COP26, isn't it really just a continuation of his climate change denial statements that he was regularly making until 2015," he said.

The Labour leader also challenged the Prime Minister over historic comments in which he described environmental change as a "primitive fear without foundation".

He added: "Our Prime Minister is failing on the biggest stage on the most important issue of our time."

In a briefing to journalists after the Commons clash, a spokesperson for the Labour leader said Mr Miliband had the "credibility" to take on the top role.

"Ed Miliband is certainly someone who has a strong record and would be an entirely suitable person," they said.

"The issue is not exactly who should take on the role, but that somebody with credibility should. The performance we've seen over the last day or two is a reflection of the fact that Boris Johnson is not serious about the climate crisis."

Mr Miliband was Labour leader from 2010 until 2015, but quit after the party lost that year's general election.

Speaking in September, Mr Miliband called for a "wartime" mobilsation of resources to tackle the climate emergency, saying there was a need for an "arms race on speed, scale and urgency".

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said the new COP26 chief would be appointed at the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle.

"We think it should be a ministerial role going forwards," he said. "One of the reasons that we think it should be a ministerial role is we think it should be someone who is a big-hitter and able to handle themselves on the international stage. 

"We thank Claire for her role in COP and a replacement will be announced in due course. In the meantime, preparations are continuing and we have a very strong team of staff already in place working on what will be a very successful and ambitious climate change summit."

Asked if Mr Miliband could be in the frame, the spokesman said: "I did make points about having to be a heavy hitter and being respected on the world stage, and I don't have anything further to add on that."

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