Complaint lodged over minister’s ‘utterly untrue’ claim

Green MP Caroline Lucas has lodged a complaint after energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng made the “utterly untrue” suggestion that she flies regularly to France – despite her having called for action to reduce the number of flights Britons take.

Sky News understands Ms Lucas has complained to the Conservative whips’ office after Mr Kwarteng accused a “Green politician” of “hypocrisy” at a fringe event at the Tories’ conference in Manchester.

Referring to a recent appearance on the BBC’s Any Questions programme, Mr Kwarteng said: “The really irritating thing about it was that I was on Any Questions – and I’m not going to say who this Green politician was – but she was on the programme and I know she has a house in France that she flies to on a fairly regular basis.

“And she was honestly telling people that they should only take a flight once every five years to save the climate.”

Mr Kwarteng also noted how Hollywood actress Emma Thompson joined Extinction Rebellion protests in London in April after flying in from Los Angeles.

“I think there is actually a degree of hypocrisy in many instances about this issue,” he added.

Mr Kwarteng appeared on Any Questions on 6 April, during which Ms Lucas advocated a frequent flier levy that would, she explained, see the price of flights “rocket” if people chose to fly more than once a year or once every few years.

More from Politics

Caroline Lucas has accused Michael Gove of 'rank hypocrisy'
Image: Green MP Caroline Lucas called for the minister to apologise

Responding to Mr Kwarteng’s remarks at the Tory conference event, Ms Lucas – who is her party’s only MP – told Sky News: “This is completely and utterly untrue.

“The only house I own is the one I live in in Brighton and I expect Kwasi Kwarteng to immediately withdraw this remark and apologise.”

Mr Kwarteng had also told the fringe event, hosted by the Centre for Policy Studies, that “people have used the climate change issue to resurrect a whole range of left-wing ideals; anti-capitalism, anti-West”.

“We’ve got to distinguish what we see as a climate change issue and the need to deal with it, and the need to decarbonise – which I think is a good thing,” he added.

“We need to distinguish that from the work of a rag-bag of left-wing pressure groups.”

Sky News has contacted both Mr Kwarteng and the Conservative Party for further comment.