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Mandrake: The climate scepticism at the heart of No 10

Global Warming Policy Foundation trustee Charles Moore continues to exert his influence on Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson at the COP26 conference. Photograph: PA Images.

The seriousness with which Boris Johnson is taking COP26 has been clear enough in his Benny Hill-style antics at the photocalls with other world leaders. It’s even more obvious in the number of government lawyers the prime minister has chosen to assign to working on the pivotal climate change conference in Glasgow: I can reveal that there are only four.

“All of the other nations taking part have significantly greater legal teams as they recognise that real change has to be enshrined into law and that takes a lot of work,” whispers my man in Whitehall. “This is literally an infinitesimal fraction of the number of lawyers we have working on the never-ending problems that Brexit is throwing up.”

Much has been made of the part of Johnson’s wife Carrie in effecting his much-touted “Damascene conversion” on the climate emergency, but in practice it’s still his ‘guru’ Charles Moore – who he recently chose to ennoble – who has the greater influence.

Lord Moore is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, based in Tufton Street in London. Earlier this year, 70 leading scientists unsuccessfully lobbied the Charity Commission to remove the charitable status of the organisation, which has been described as the country’s most prominent source of climate change denialism.

Cash cow
No one who leaves Boris Johnson’s employment has to face poverty.

Inaugural financial statements from Isaac Levido – the prime minister’s former election mastermind – show that Fleetwood Strategy, the private consultancy he co-founded in January last year, has made £500,000. It has £259,901 in retained earnings. Levido and his co-founders have described it nature of business as “market research and opinion polling.”

They’ve posted their results ahead of their former Downing Street colleagues, Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings. Cummings, is charging £100 a year for his insider’s blog and runs a technology outfit called SIWAH; while Cain has launched his own PR firm called Charlesbye, as well as securing a post at the Social Market Foundation.

Rishi’s wish
Rishi Sunak’s decision to auction a signed copy of the budget to raise funds for the Tories may have broken tradition, but the money is definitely needed. The chancellor’s party has just reported a £5,479,000 loss on income for 2020 at £24,039,000.

The annual deficit in marked contrast with 2019, when the party posted a £13,087,000 profit on income of £67,995,000 – its coffers boosted in donations for the 2019 election, which ran at £55,706,000 alone.

New accounts for central office reveal it spent £13,430,000 on staff. The loss shrunk the party’s net worth to a modest £2,304,000.

Alan’s mates
The film director Stephen Frears saw the dramatic potential of Gina Miller’s court case against Theresa May’s government some time before I got around to writing my play Bloody Difficult Women, which opens at London’s Riverside Studios in the New Year.

That the film never got to be made probably came as something of a relief for Gina’s husband Alan since Kevin Spacey – this was before the allegations of sexual abuse – was being lined up to play him.

Sasha Baron Cohen would have been a smarter choice as he knows Gina’s other half well.

They are both old boys of Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, Herts. 

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