Former Conservative minister Zac Goldsmith ‘very tempted’ to back Labour over climate issues

A former Conservative minister has said that he is “very tempted” to back the Labour Party at the next general election.

Zac Goldsmith, a former minister and Boris Johnson ally, said he could do so because his own party does not have“a clear answer” to climate change.

Lord Goldsmith added that Sir Keir Starmer must emphasise his “commitment” to reaching net zero carbon emissions, saying that Labour doubling-down on green issues could earn his support.

“The simple truth is there is no pathway to net zero and there’s no solution to climate change that does not involve nature, massive efforts to protect and restore the natural world”, he told the BBC.

“And at the moment, I’m not hearing any of that from the Labour Party,” said Goldsmith.

He added: “If I do, if there’s a real commitment — the kind of commitment that we saw when Boris Johnson was the leader — then I’d be very tempted to throw my weight behind that party and support them in any way I could.”

Lord Goldsmith, a Conservative peer, until recently served in Rishi Sunak’s government as international environment minister — but he resigned shortly after he was accused of being one of the Boris Johnson allies who undermined MPs’ privileges committee inquiry into partygate.

But Lord Goldsmith insisted in his resignation letter that he had quit because of “apathy” over climate change and the environment as he accused the prime minister of being “simply uninterested” in the issues.

“It’s great that the government is saying that they’re committed to £11.6bn, but mathematically, it is impossible for us to meet that target. Unless the Treasury intervenes, unless the prime minister intervenes, it’s simply impossible.

He added: “If you look at the trajectory of expenditure, in order to fulfil that promise the first year of the next government – which may or may not be this government, it might be the Labour Party – will have to spend over 80 per cent of all of its bilateral aid on climate finance. And that it obviously is not going to happen.”

Mr Goldsmith said Labour still had a “blind spot” on the natural environment. “When the Labour party thinks environment, when it talks environment, it’s think carbon, taxation and regulation and all the things that go with that.”