This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

First, some recent history. In August, it emerged that Infosys, the firm co-founded by Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law, signed a billion-dollar deal with BP two months before the Prime Minister opened hundreds of new oil and gas extraction licences in the North Sea.

It’s thought to be the second-largest deal in the history of Infosys.

More recent history: also in August, the international campaign group Global Witness reported that between January and March, Sunak and his climate and energy ministers “met with fossil fuel companies 54 times, on average more than once every two days… this amounts to around 20% of all lobbying meetings held in that period”.

Alison Harrison, from Global Witness, said: “The Conservative Party is the political wing of the fossil fuel industry”. The CEO of Shell currently sits on Sunak’s new business council.

Now let’s consider Sunak’s u-turn on Britain’s commitment to net zero, an act that’s received withering condemnation from industry and the international community. Jürgen Maier, Siemens UK former chief executive, said Sunak had made Britain far less attractive to international investment, calling his actions a “disaster for productivity [and]… jobs”.

Ford UK chair, Lisa Brankin, said business needed “ambition, commitment and consistency”. Former US vice president Al Gore said Sunak’s decision was “shocking and disappointing” and “not what the world needs” from Britain.

Ruth Davis, an adviser to the UK’s Cop26 climate team, said “the international and security communities… are baffled”. Alok Sharma, the former Tory cabinet minister who led Cop26, said “for any party to resile from this agenda will not help economically or electorally”.

Boris Johnson attacked the plans saying Britain “cannot afford to falter now or in any way lose our ambition for this country”.

It’s worth considering Johnson as a benchmark against which to measure lies. Johnson lied to cover his back over Partygate. Sunak lied wilfully throughout his net zero speech.

The Herald:
Sunak claimed he was scrapping policies that didn’t exist. He singled out “how many passengers you can have in your car”, “proposals that we should force you to have seven different bins”, and “proposals to make you change your diet – and harm British farmers – by taxing meat”.

None of these were serious policies, nor were they ever going to happen. Sunak took wild suggestions and pretended they were concrete plans. It’s the same technique the Blair government used to ‘sex up’ intelligence over Iraq. In other words: lies.

Sunak said he’d stop “property owners” being forced to pay £8000 for insulation. That scared every homeowner in Britain. What he failed to mention was: it’s only landlords who’d be forced to insulate, to stop tenants freezing.

Another “heavy-handed measure” Sunak claimed to be stopping was “new taxes to discourage flying”. There are no new UK taxes on flying. Jet fuel is tax-free. That’s why taking the train is more expensive than flying. Nor is there VAT on plane tickets.

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One flying tax has existed since 1994, so not new: air passenger duty of £6.50 per person per domestic flight, or £13 for flights to Europe.

Sunak has achieved the impossible. He’s revealed himself to be a bigger liar than Johnson, and done just about as good a job as Johnson in turning Britain into a shamed, distrusted nation on the world’s stage.

Sunak is prepared to sacrifice Britain – and the fight against climate catastrophe – in order to turn net zero into yet another Tory Culture War on the chance it might win him a few rotten seats at the next election.

This may well make him the most disgraceful Prime Minister in a field that’s already overly crowded.

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