There is a deep-rooted connection between UK climate science deniers and those campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union, new mapping by DeSmogUK can reveal.
Tying together this close-knit network reveals how organisations residing behind the doors of Westminter’s 55 Tufton Street share many of the same members and donors.
And the reach of this small group of Brexit climate deniers extends beyond this Westminster building to include prominent politicians such as former London Mayor Boris Johnson, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom as well as traditional British media outlets.
Perhaps the epitome of this nexus between climate science deniers and Brexit campaigners came last week when former environment secretary Owen Paterson delivered a speech at this very same address.
Advertised by Grassroots Out and hosted by Paterson’s UK2020 think tank, Paterson argued “Why the UK environment would be improved by leaving the EU.”
His speech was quickly criticised for being out-of-touch by Green MP Caroline Lucas, who said: “I’m as likely to ask Donald Trump for advice on race relations as I am to trust Owen Paterson on protecting our environment.”
But it’s hard to ignore the political movers and shakers working inside the walls of this four-storey, multi-million pound building located just steps from the Houses of Parliament.
This small, mostly male, contingent is a significant driving force behind the ‘leave’ side of the 23 June EU referendum and the same group that wants less, not more, done to tackle catastrophic climate change.
The overlap stems from a common neoliberal ideology that fears top-down state interventions and regulations which are perceived as threatening values of individual freedom, economic (market) freedom, or the sovereignty of national governments. Under this logic, we must reject both the European Union and most climate policy.
It begs the question: If Britain leaves the EU, what will then happen to the country’s climate change policy?
Mapping the Bubble
Delving into the web, you’ll quickly get a sense of the deep-rooted connection between these various organisations.
DeSmog UK first reported on this relationship in January when a slew of climate science deniers published comment pieces blaming European bureaucracy, not climate change, for the December flooding.
Then, in February, the Independent revealed that these inter-related groups all share the 55 Tufton Street address.
So now, with the Brexit vote less than two weeks away, DeSmog UK has for the first time mapped, in-depth, the climate-euro sceptic bubble for you to explore.
How to use the map: Zoom in and out to see the web of relationships between the residents of 55 Tufton Street and its neighbours. Hover over the lines to see the type of relationship between the two entities, and click on the person or organisation’s name to find out more (this will open up a new tab where you can find out more information about all of this entity’s various relationships and stance on climate change).
Looking at the map, you will see 55 Tufton Street at the centre. Above, you have the building’s owner, Richard Smith, and below you have two rows: organisations which currently reside (or did until recently) at this address, and key figures within each organisation. And then you have the many other relationships that are derived from this.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all people affiliated with each 55 Tufton Street organisation. Nor is it likely to be an exhaustive list of all the relationships between the entities included in the map. If you spot something we’ve missed, let us know in the comments section below.
Below we highlight some of key relationships contained in this map:
Who is Richard Smith? He keeps a low profile and is perhaps best known for when he flew David Cameron to his home in Shobdon, Herefordshire in 2007. The Midlands businessman owns HR Smith group, which works on advanced aerospace technologies. Not only is he associated with several of the organisations at 55 Tufton Street, but as the map shows, Smith has also donated money to the Vote Leave campaign, Labour Leave, and the Bruges Group (via his company Techtest).
Meet Vote Leave’s climate science deniers: The prominent Vote Leave campaign group draws several of its members from Paterson’s UK2020 think tank and Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), including Matt Ridley who’s a member of both. UKIP MP Douglas Carswell is also a supporter of Vote Leave – Carswell is known for saying his biggest regret is voting in favour of the 2008 Climate Change Act.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s ties to everyone: In 2010 following the general election, the TaxPayers’ Alliance hosted a roundtable meeting to discuss the Conservative Party’s return to power. Among those in attendance included the GWPF, Global Vision, the Centre for Policy Studies, the Institute of Economic Affairs, as well as oil giant BP.
Matthew Elliott: While not at the centre of the map, Elliott is definitely at the centre of many of the 55 Tufton Street organisations, including the TaxPayers’ Alliance (and its donations wing, the Politics and Economics Research Trust), Vote Leave, Business for Britain, and The European Foundation. It’s also interesting to note that Elliott’s wife, Florence Heath, is a petroleum geologist who at one time worked for Shell and was a Charles G. Koch fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (known for promoting climate science denial) in the summer of 2001.
Curious what the building looks like inside? Here’s a 2004 Westminster Council planning application: