Ditch the ‘net zero’ pledge and lose 1.3million votes, Boris Johnson has warned
The Tories will lose 1.3 million votes if they weaken the commitment to net zero carbon emissions, warns Boris Johnson.
A poll by Onward, a think tank close to the party, found much stronger support for sticking with the 2050 policy than abandoning it, even as the economic clouds darken.
It comes as a powerful group of backbench Tories, including former cabinet ministers Steve Baker and Esther McVey, pressured Mr Johnson into accepting that the costs to net zero voters were too high .
They want to curb CO2 reduction measures to replace gas boilers and insulate homes – which have already been condemned as weak by many experts.
Last month, Tory Speaker Oliver Dowden attacked the ‘net zero dogma’ as he insisted that new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea must take place.
But Will Tanner, director of Onward and former No 10 adviser to Theresa May, said his research showed voters would “punish any party” that reneged on the historic net-zero pledge.
He revealed that two in five people who voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 general election would be less likely to support the party again if it abandoned its pledge to reach net zero by 2050.
Only 18% of former Tory voters said they would return to the party after such a swing – which would cost the Tories up to 1.3 million voters, the think tank estimated.
And support for net zero is higher among conservative voters in the north than among conservatives in the south, suggesting that many of the crucial Red Wall seats snatched up in 2019 would be at risk.
“It’s not just wrong to say that the Conservative Party’s electoral prospects are being undermined by a net-zero pledge, but it’s the opposite of the reality,” Mr Tanner said.
“Voters overwhelmingly support environmental protections, support the deadline set by Parliament…and will punish any party that reneges on these promises.
“That is as true, if not more so, for the Conservative Party’s new coalition than for its old guard.”
Mr Johnson has insisted he will not scrap green levies on energy bills, to pay for clean energy investments, after informing the move was being considered.
The poll also found that 55% of all voters think the war in Ukraine is a reason to push ahead with net zero targets, while just 28% want the UK to slow down.
Overall, nearly two-thirds of voters support net zero policies while just 9% oppose them – and 58% agree that “even though it’s going to be expensive, we need to stop hurting the economy.” environment “.
Rachel Wolf, founder of Public First, which carried out the poll, said: ‘It is striking that even amid terrifying pressure on the cost of living, voters from different social backgrounds want politicians stay the course on green policies. .”