Ed Miliband

Miliband hints Labour could recruit Alok Sharma, Chris Skidmore for climate mission

Ed Miliband has hinted that the Labour Party could recruit former Conservative ministers such as Alok Sharma and Chris Skidmore in government, as it seeks to make good on its climate promises. 

Miliband, who serves shadow energy security and net zero secretary, suggested Labour could draw on the expertise of “people like” Sharma and Skidmore if it wins an election later this year. 

The former Labour leader also had warm words for Theresa May, who passed net zero into law in 2019 as prime minister. “She has a really important, powerful climate voice”, he said. 

In a rare, expansive interview with The Times newspaper, Miliband pointedly ruled out seeking the help of another former prime minister, Boris Johnson, in government. He said: “Johnson will not be an envoy, I can exclusively tell you.”

Miliband’s comments come amid speculation Labour could be about to water-down its clean energy investment strategy, known as the green prosperity plan, further. 

Keir Starmer’s party is nominally committed to investing £28 billion a year on low-carbon efforts by the end of the next parliament. However, the target that has come under fire from the Conservative Party — alongside the party’s pledge to complete the switch to clean power by 2030.

Starmer mission tracker. What is the Labour leader’s vision for Britain?

Sir Alok Sharma, who is standing down as a Conservative MP at the next election, served as COP 26 president when the UK hosted the climate summit in 2022. 

Announcing his decision to stand down as the MP for Reading West in September 2023, he insisted he will still “champion in parliament the causes I care deeply about, especially climate action”.

Under Rishi Sunak’s premiership, Sharma has been critical of the government’s net zero reforms.

He has warned the PM that any party going wobbly on protecting the planet would “pay a heavy price at the ballot box.”

When questioned about Sir Alok’s decision to stand down as an MP last year, Sunak insisted the move is “absolutely not linked” to the watering down of net zero targets conducted by his government.

Logic of ‘Starmerism’ means Labour can never fully embrace £28bn green pledge

Earlier this month, Chris Skidmore announced in a scathing letter his decision to stand down as a Conservative MP last month. 

Skidmore, who authored the Net Zero Review as the government’s de facto climate tsar, issued a statement on X (formerly Twitter) saying he will stand down as an MP “as soon as possible” over legislation set to expand oil and gas licences.

The Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, he argued, “clearly promotes the production of new oil and gas”.

‘A total distraction’: Alok Sharma on ‘smoke and mirrors’ plan for more North Sea oil drilling

His statement read: “As the former Energy Minister who signed the UK’s net zero commitment by 2050 into law, I cannot vote for a bill that clearly promotes the production of new oil and gas”.

It added: “As fossil fuels become more obsolete, expanding new oil and gas licences or opening new oil fields will only create stranded assets of the future, harming local and regional communities that should instead be supported to transition their skills and expertise to renewable and clean energy”.

Skidmore’s resignation has triggered a by-election in his former Kingswood constituency.

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