Brexit Climate Deniers

There is a deep-rooted connection between UK climate science deniers and those campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union.

brexit climate deniers

On 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU in a referendum on Brtain's membership of the union. The 'Brexit' vote came after Prime Minister David Cameron promised in his 2015 Conservative Party election manifesto to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU before the end of 2017.

Since then, the link between climate science deniers and Eurosceptics has become more pronounced. In February 2016, it was revealed that Lord Lawson's climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation had moved its headquarters into the same building as Brexit campaign groups 'Business for Britain' and 'Vote Leave', along with a slew of other right wing organisations including the TaxPayers' Alliance.  

The Brexit-climate denier overlap stems from a common neoliberal ideology that fears top-down state interventions and regulations which are perceived as threatening values of individual freedom, economic (market) freedom, or the sovereignty of national governments. Under this logic, we must reject both the European Union and most climate policy. 

And the influence of this small group extends beyond the walls of their 55 Tufton Street address - just a stone's throw from the Houses of Parliament - to include prominent politicians and traditional British media outlets. It begs the question: If the climate-euro sceptic bubble is successful on Brexit, what will then happen to British climate change policy? 

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By Mat Hope • Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 08:01
In Europe, populism points one way, climate science the other

By Mat Hope, DeSmog, and Eduardo Robaina, La Marea/Climática. Lee en español en Climática.

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.  

In December 2015, European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker stood at a podium to hail the world’s first comprehensive agreement to take action on climate change, and told the world, “the Paris Agreement now reflects our ambition worldwide.” While the European Union’s leaders stand by that sentiment, a lot has changed since then.

The Union is facing a credibility crisis, threatened by Brexit and the rise of populism across the continent. Its leadership is facing calls to simultaneously increase its ambition to tackle climate change and cut the very regulations that would deliver reductions in globe-warming pollution.

Climate policy — a seemingly unlikely candidate for controversy back in 2015 — is suddenly at the heart of a European power struggle.

By Simon Roach • Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - 11:21

With Boris Johnson sauntering into Downing Street having recrafted his own script from guffawing jester to grave populist, swathes of right-wing lobbyists have stealthed their way from the fringes of Westminster to the heart of government.

We know this, because we've been watching this slow erosion of democracy for years. In the time since the Brexit referendum, we and others have sought to uncover the connections of those now in the cabinet –  the money and friendly relationships behind the big changes taking place in Britain.

By Richard Collett... • Friday, August 23, 2019 - 16:32

The number of checks on environmental standards carried out by UK government agencies has plummeted in recent years, leading to an “enforcement gap”, a report has warned.

Analysis published this week by Unchecked, a newly-formed campaign coalition, highlights the impact government cuts have had on regulators’ capacity to enforce a range of laws, from air quality to fire safety.

By Richard Collett... • Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 07:34
Turning Point UK tour advert

The US leaders of a scandal-hit American student movement are touring the UK this week, following the launch of a British branch of the organisation last month.

Advocating climate science denial, “free markets and limited government”, and with numerous links to the fossil fuel industry and Donald Trump, Turning Point claims to have a presence on more than 1,300 college campuses and high schools, engaging in “over 500,000 face-to-face conversations with college students each semester.”

The scandal-hit group has been plagued by incidents of racism and allegations of illegal campaign spending since its launch, with its “professor watchlist” accused of stymying academic freedom.

By Chloe Farand an... • Monday, January 7, 2019 - 14:53
Brexit: The Uncivil war

How was the Brexit referendum won?

That’s the question at the core of Brexit: The Uncivil War, written by James Graham and aired for the first time on Monday, which presents a two-hour account of events leading to the Leave campaign's victory on the 23 June 2016.

The overwhelmingly male cast plays the string of ministers, political activists, businessmen and strategists involved in whipping up support for the Leave side. In the foreground of the story is Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings, played by Benedict Cumberbatch as the mastermind behind the campaign’s catchy slogan and the cunning strategist who understood the power of data in political campaigning.

By Chloe Farand • Tuesday, January 1, 2019 - 17:00

As 2018 came to a close, urgency to tackle climate change intensified. 

The year was marked by the publication of a landmark scientific report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned that the world has 12 years to nearly halve greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

While across the world people are rising up to demand radical climate action, governments have been accused of failing to “deliver what the world needs”. 

In the UK, ongoing uncertainty over Brexit leaves many unanswered questions over the future of environmental regulation. Meanwhile, the future of the country's burgeoning fracking industry appears a bit shaky. 

DeSmog UK takes a look at seven environmental and climate stories to look out for in the year ahead.

By Chloe Farand an... • Monday, November 19, 2018 - 00:01
The Elliotts network map

If you have detected a distinctly American flavour to the rampant lobbying in Westminster corridors over a Brexit deal, there is a good reason why.

A close look at the transatlantic connections of the London-based groups pushing for the most deregulated form of Brexit reveals strong ties to major US libertarian influencers. These include fossil fuel magnates the Koch brothers — known for funding climate science denial around the world — and the man who bankrolled Donald Trump’s campaign, Robert Mercer.

At the heart of this network lies a little-known power couple, Matthew and Sarah Elliott. Together, the husband and wife team connect senior members of the Leave campaign and groups pushing a libertarian free-market ideology from offices in Westminster’s Tufton Street to major US libertarian lobbyists and funders.

Collectively, the network aims to use Brexit as an opportunity to slash regulations in the UK, paving the way for a wide-ranging US-UK free-trade deal that could have disastrous consequences for the environment.

By Mat Hope • Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 07:15

At last, the UK and EU have agreed on Brexit. Well, sort of.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement text published yesterday and reluctantly agreed by Theresa May's cabinet still has to get through a long and tortuous process before it actually becomes 'The Deal'. But it does give a good indication of where both sides stand when it comes to some important issues.

And it's probably fair to say that if this draft was the final one, people who care about the environment would probably be pretty happy.

By Chloe Farand • Monday, October 22, 2018 - 22:07
Brexit Banksy

The UK has to negotiate its own bespoke arrangement on climate change and energy with the European Union after Brexit because no existing models are adequate, a former government negotiator has said. The UK could also find itself continuing to work as part of the EU bloc after Brexit at the annual climate talks.

Those are the conclusions of Peter Betts, a former director for international climate and energy and negotiator at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Betts, who left his role in government last week, made the comments during a panel discussion organised by the environmental think tank Green Alliance titled, “UK climate diplomacy post-Brexit: Learning from Norway and Switzerland”.

By Chloe Farand • Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 15:46

In a packed lecture hall a few hundred metres away from the Conservative Party Conference, climate science denier and hard-Brexiter MP Owen Paterson told the cheering crowd: “We are the mainstream of the Conservative Party.”

As the rift between different factions of the Conservative Party deepens over Brexit, Paterson, a political advisor to the group Leave Means Leave, was preaching to an audience already on his side of the divide.

He was speaking at the Alternative Brexit Conference, a one-day event which ran parallel to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Monday and required no pass or accreditation to attend.