A fresh cabinet row has erupted after Michael Gove wrote to colleagues blaming the Treasury for a government defeat in the House of Lords.
The Brexiteer environment secretary accused Philip Hammond’s department of ‘short-sightedness’ which had led to an ‘avoidable’ Lords defeat for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
Peers voted to force the government to maintain European Union environmental principles and standards after Brexit, the 15th defeat suffered during the Bill’s passage through the Lords.
In the letter to the cabinet, leaked to the Daily Telegraph, Gove pinned the blame for the defeat on the Chancellor’s department.
It is believed Hammond blocked plans to give a new post-Brexit environmental watchdog the power to impose fines on the government and local authorities if they failed to meet targets on boosting recycling and cutting pollution.
In the letter Gove wrote: ‘The short-sightedness of the Treasury has now led to an entirely predictable and avoidable defeat on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and inflicted a damaging blow to the government’s environmental credentials.’
The government will face a battle to reverse the 15 defeats suffered in the Lords when the legislation returns to the Commons within the next few weeks.
Gove warned that ministers would have to make ‘significant concessions’ to overturn the amendment, including giving the new green watchdog the power to take the government to court and issue fines.
He added ministers ‘cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of recent weeks and have the government’s environmental credibility further undermined’.
A Treasury source said: ‘It is clearly wrong to blame the Treasury for this.
‘Philip has worked closely with Michael to support the government’s environmental agenda, including on plans for a plastic waste tax.’