Government tells diplomats to ‘scale down’ climate change pressure to focus on trade

Posted On: 
9th April 2017

The Government will “scale down” its focus on climate change and the illegal wildlife trade in favour of new economic links after Brexit, a leaked paper has suggested. 

The message will be delivered by a top FCO civil servant
PA Images

The comments, which will form part of a speech to diplomats by top Foreign Office official Tim Hitchens, were photographed when a Department for International Trade civil servant was reading them on a train.

The pictures were passed on to the Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday.

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“You have a crucial role to play in posts in implementing our new approach to prosperity against the huge changes stemming from last year’s Brexit vote,” he will say.

“Trade and growth are now priorities for all posts – you will all need to prioritise developing capability in this area. Some economic security-related work like climate change and illegal wildlife trade will be scaled down.”

A Whitehall source told the Sunday Times that downgrading the focus on climate change and wildlife would make it easier to boost trade with Latin American and African countries.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told the Mail on Sunday: “The rhino and the rainforest will pay the price for Theresa May’s hard Brexit.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The UK is a global leader in tackling the illegal wildlife trade and a key part of worldwide efforts on climate change.

“Our commitment to both issues is as strong as ever.”