Boris Johnson ‘sacks UN climate summit president’

Move comes ahead of forthcoming government reshuffle and plan to make post ministerial role

Photo: PA

By Murray Jones

03 Feb 2020

Prime minister Boris Johnson has removed former energy minister Claire Perry O’Neill from her role of organising the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow later this year.

Perry O’Neill has been removed from her post as the president of the COP 26 event as the government announced the job will now become a ministerial role.

In response, Perry O’Neill wrote on Twitter: “Very sad that the role I was offered by Boris Johnson last year has now been rescinded as Whitehall ‘can’t cope’ with an Indy cop unit.


"A shame we haven’t had one climate cabinet meeting since we formed. Wishing the cop team every blessing in the climate recovery emergency.”

At the last UN Summit, based in Madrid in December, she played a prominent role for the UK, and was responsible for coordinating the event both within the UK and with the UN.

The government gave no official reason for her dismissal but The Guardian reported that Perry O’Neill’s poor performance at Davos and a recent ministerial visit to India, in which she repeatedly said ‘the Paris agreement is dead’, had raised concerns over her suitability for the diplomatic climate summit job.

In November 2018, during her time as energy minister, three civil service unions wrote a joint letter to Alex Chisholm, permanent secretary at BEIS, claiming that Perry O’Neill bullied and shouted at civil servants, accusations she denies.

The exact format of the role could be determined in the looming government reshuffle, as it has been reported that a department responsible for clime change could be recreated from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

In a statement, the Cabinet Office said: “The prime minister is grateful to Claire for her work preparing for what will be a very successful and ambitious climate change summit in Glasgow in November.

“Preparations will continue at pace for the summit, and a replacement will be confirmed shortly.

“Going forward, this will be a ministerial role.”

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