Introducing Dominic Raab — The New Brexit Secretary with Ties to the UK's Climate Science Denial Network

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Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab has been appointed Secretary of State for Brexit following David Davis’ resignation. He is a hardline Brexiteer with links to an extended network of individuals and organisations pushing deregulation and climate science denial.

A former solicitor, Raab worked as Davis’s chief of staff between 2006 and 2010. He was elected the MP for Esher and Walton in 2010.

Raab served as minister of state for justice and housing under Theresa May’s government and has been a member of the committee on exiting the European Union from October 2016 to May 2017.

Raab and a Brexiteer Climate Science Denial Network

A staunch Brexiteer, Raab has been involved in a number of pressure groups advocating a hard Brexit with some of the UK’s prominent climate science deniers.

He served on the political advisory board of the campaign group Leave Means Leave, alongside North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson, who has long lobbied to cut regulations and targets related to climate change.

Paterson has strong ties to the UK’s premier climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). Paterson’s brother-in-law is hereditary peer Matt Ridley, who sits on the GWPF’s advisory board.

Leave Means Leave was also supported by some of the UK’s most prominent climate science deniers such as former Tory MP and now Lord Peter Lilley, and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Sammy Wilson. It was also supported by libertarian Tories calling for deregulations which have previously pushed disinformation on climate change including Jacob Rees-Mogg John Redwood, Christopher Chope and Ian Paisley to name a few.

Leave Means Leave lobbied for “a swift, clean exit from the EU” without “delay obstruction of dilution of the Brexit process” and advocates leaving the single market and the customs union and argues that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

According to data from the Electoral Commission, the group’s co-chairman Richard Tice donated £38,000 to Grassroots Out, a pro-Brexit campaign group which was supported by UKIP, Liam Fox and David Davis.

Raab’s name no longer appears on the list of the Leave Means Leave supporters page yet the group’s YouTube channel still includes a number of his interviews on Brexit.

Raab was also co-founder of Change Britain, a campaign group that evolved out of Vote Leave and wrote a letter to Theresa May last year warning that Britain could not be “kept in the EU by stealth”.

Tufton Street Links

Raab has also published several articles on the Taxpayers’ Alliance website, a British think tank that campaigns for a low tax society and sits at the heart of a cosy climate euro-sceptic bubble pushing for a hard Brexit and less climate action. The Taxpayers’ Alliance is based out offices at 55 Tufton Street, an office shared by a number of other organisations promoting a hard Brexit and climate science denial, just around the corner from the Houses of Parliament.

In 2012, he wrote a piece for Taxpayers’ Alliance demanding the government be transparent about the cost of its climate policies, according to the groups’ Twitter feed. The link to the story is no longer available.  

Its founder Matthew Elliott sits at the nexus of a group of pro-hard Brexit campaigners closely linked to the UK’s climate science deniers and other anti-regulation think tanks.

In 2014, he was a key speaker at an event organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs about Brexit’s economic risks and opportunities alongside Paterson and Redwood.  

Climate Change Voting Record

In Parliament, Raab has voted against allowing a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK after Brexit.

Following the Miller case and the High Court ruling that Brexit could not be triggered without a parliamentary vote, Raab told The Telegraph: “On June 23 the British people gave a clear mandate for the UK Government to leave the EU and take back control of our borders, laws, money and trade. It is disappointing that today the court has chosen to ignore their decision.

This case is a plain attempt to block Brexit by people who are out of touch with the country and refuse to accept the result.”

Raab has also voted against a number of measures to prevent climate change including against setting a decarbonisation target for the UK within six months of June 2016 and to review it annually thereafter, and against requiring a strategy for carbon capture and storage for the energy industry.

In 2015, he voted against against explicitly requiring an environmental permit for fracking activities and voted not to bam the exploitation of unconventional petroleum for at least 18 months and not to require a review of the impact of such exploitation on climate change.

In 2011, he called feminists “amongst the most obnoxious bigots”.

Chris Heaton-Harris: New junior Brexit minister

Davis’s deputy, Steve Baker, also resigned over Theresa May’s Chequers plan for Brexit.

Chris Heaton-Harris, the MP for Daventry and a former Conservative whip has been appointed to replace him. He served as an MEP for the East Midlands from 1999 to 2009.

Known for his strong anti-windfarm views, he is a hardline Brexiteer and chaired the European Research Group, an influential pro-Brexit Conservative group of MP backbenchers now led by Rees-Mogg from 2010 to 2016.

Last year, he wrote a letter to every university vice-chancellor asking them to declare what they are teaching about Brexit and a list of the teachers' names

He voted against a right to remain for EU nationals after Brexit and has voted against measures to tackle climate change.

How David Davis and Steve Baker fit in the Brexiteer Climate Science Denier Network

Following his resignation, Davis told the BBC he was no longer the best person to deliver Theresa May’s Brexit plan as he did not “believe” in it.

He said the “career-ending” decision was a personal one but he felt the UK was “giving away too much and too easily” to the EU in the negotiations.

A long-standing eurosceptic with close ties to the free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, Davis campaigned for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 2005 on an agenda of low taxation, free market deregulation and “a suspicion of big government”.

Davis is a member of the European Research Group.

Davis has previously received donations from the now-defunct National Center for Policy Analysis which advocated “private, free-market alternatives to government regulation and control” and spread disinformation about climate change.

He also received donations from company Techtest that donated money to the Bruges Group, a eurosceptic think-tank which rejects the scientific consensus that global warming is manmade.

Davis was also handed money by Michael Hintze, one of the Conservative Party’s main donors who has also donated money to the Brexit campaign and is one of the key funders of UK climate science denial thinktank the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Baker, who resigned as junior Brexit minister, is also at the centre of the Brexit-climate-science-denier nexus.

According to research by Open Democracy, Baker accepted a donation from the Constitutional Research Council, the shadowy group that channelled a mystery £435,000 to the DUP to campaign for Brexit.

Open Democracy also reported that Baker accepted conference expenses from radical right wing group American Liberty Fund, which has a history of close collaboration with the fossil fuel magnates and climate science denier funders Koch brothers.

Baker has previously written about the “uncertainties” of climate change and some of his blogs have been cross-posted by the climate science denier Global Warming Policy Foundation.  

Davis and Baker’s resignation means the pair is now free from ministerial responsibility, allowing them to resume their lobbying activities.

Boris Johnson

In another twist on a dramatic day in Brexi-land, foreign secretary Boris Johnson became the third minister to resign over May’s Brexit Chequers plan.

A long-standing Brexiteer, the former London mayor endorsed the official Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum and was appointed foreign secretary following the 2016 vote.

Johnson was also on the board of advisors for the now-defunct right wing think tank The Atlantic Bridge which was founded by Liam Fox to promote “a special relationship” between the UK and the US.

Last September, Johnson helped to launch a new thinktank called the Institute for Free Trade (IFT) to push “the moral case for open commerce” and to seize Brexit as “a unique opportunity to revitalise the world trading system”.

The IFT is based at 57 Tufton Street, sharing an office with the anti-renewables thinktank the Centre for Policy Studies, and next door to many of the organisations at the heart of a UK climate science denial network in 55 Tufton Street.

Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, who gave the 2017 annual lecture at the climate science denying Global Warming Policy Foundation, is on the IFT’s ‘international advisory panel’ and the IFT's president is climate science denying Tory MEP Daniel Hannan.

Johnson has previously flirted with climate science denial.

In 2013, he wrote in his Telegraph column that a cold snap in weather casted doubt on climate science.

He said: “I am also an empiricist; and I observe that something appears to be up with our winter weather, and to call it “warming” is obviously to strain the language.”

Writing for the Telegraph in 2015, he argued that recent warm winter weather had nothing to do with climate change. “There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong [in December] – but they don’t include global warming,” he wrote.

In both columns he referred to the “great physicist and meteorologist Piers Corbyn” – brother of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and a known climate science denier.

Updated 09/07/2018: A section on Baker and Davis and a section on Johnson was added.

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