No 10 plot to sideline Sturgeon at Cop26 in Glasgow; Tories at war over tax hike for social care

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Downing Street has drawn up plans to try and isolate Scotland’s first minister during Cop26 in Glasgow amid fears Nicola Sturgeon will “steal the limelight” and exploit the event to further Scottish independence.

Number 10 has been “wargaming to stop” Sturgeon “using Cop26 as [an] ‘advert’ for Scottish independence”, declares an exclusive in the Independent.

Notes from a meeting warn that without a strategy in place, a risk exists where Sturgeon might “hijack” Cop26 and use it as a “soapbox for her independence obsession”, while leaked Whatsapp messages advise Boris Johnson not to share a platform with Sturgeon, before or during the event. The Independent states the prime minister “should ‘neutralise’ her by including other devolved leaders where possible.”

Other advice extends to displaying the union flag as much as possible, and emphasising Glasgow’s place as part of the UK above its place in Scotland.

Politicking ahead of Cop26 is an abdication of responsibility, says Sturgeon

Sturgeon responded on Twitter: “All that matters is that COP26 delivers an outcome to meet the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“We must work together and maximise contributions towards that. Anyone – me or PM – who allowed politics to get in way would be abdicating that responsibility.”

In August, Sturgeon’s SNP announced a co-operation agreement with the Green Party taking them into government as ministers for the first time anywhere in the UK.

The historic deal “to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland” is a groundbreaking agreement – in both Scottish and, perhaps even more so, UK politics,” said Sturgeon. “Most importantly, it is an agreement that meets the challenges and opportunities of our time.”

Cop26 will be UK’s biggest diplomatic meeting since WW2

Cop26 will see almost 200 world leaders, their staff and entourages arrive for the two-week Conference of the Parties (Cop) that begins in Glasgow on October 31. The world’s media will descend on the city along with lobbyists and delegates for what STV describe as the “biggest diplomatic meeting on UK soil since the Second World War.”

Leaders will discuss ways to tackle the climate change crisis and means for vulnerable communities to adapt to environmental changes.

Italy is co-president, along with the UK, and Glasgow – which aims to be carbon neutral by 2030 – was chosen to host the summit, according to Cop26 website, because of its “experience, commitment to sustainability and world-class facilities.”

Tax rise is ‘morally, economically and politically wrong’ says senior Tory

Meanwhile, the Telegraph declares that senior Tories have been “threatening open warfare” over the “idiotic” tax increase, planned by Johnson and Rishi Sunak to pay for social care.

The Telegraph allies both the PM and chancellor on the issue but evidences opposition to the plan at the highest levels, with one Cabinet member denouncing the proposed rise in National Insurance rates as “morally, economically and politically wrong”.

“It kicks in at a low level and there are all kinds of exemptions which benefit the rich,” said the unnamed minister, continuing: “If you get all your income from investments and property you don’t pay a penny but if you work your guts out for minimum wage you get clobbered.

“After all that’s happened in the last 18 months they can’t seriously be thinking about a tax raid on supermarket workers and nurses so the children of Surrey homeowners can receive bigger inheritances. It makes a total mockery of the levelling-up agenda and Red Wallers will be up in arms.

“That’s before you even get to the fact that a couple of years ago we promised not to do it,” said the minister alluding to Johnson’s “personal guarantee” and the Tory party manifesto promise not to raise taxes.

Risking a generational divide, given younger workers will be subsidising the care for older people, is ringing further alarm bells for Tories.

Marcus Fysh, the chair of the Economic Growth Group of Conservative MPs writing in the Telegraph, expresses his alarm at the direction taken by the government on several issues, not least paying for social care by raising tax.

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