The Brexit Party has swept to victory in the UK’s European Parliament elections, meaning a new large group of climate science deniers will soon be walking the corridors of Brussels and Strasbourg.
After the party’s unprecedented success in an election its candidates never wanted to happen, it will be sending 29 MEPs to the European Parliament. They will go with a remit to ensure the UK leaves the EU at the earliest opportunity (most likely without a deal — as any deal has so-far proved unacceptable to the group).
And they will be going to lock horns with a new “green wave” of MEPs, many of whom insist on urgent action on climate change, unlike most of the Brexit Party’s successful candidates.
Here’s what last night’s Brexit Party winners have to say on climate change, how they are tied to a network of hard-Brexit climate science deniers based in and around offices at 55 Tufton Street, and how they fit into a network of media talking heads funded by the fossil-fuel industry.
Climate Science Deniers
The Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, has a history of spreading misinformation about climate science.
He told an interviewer in 2013: “I’m all for pollution controls but to obsess with carbon dioxide, which as I understand it, is a perfectly natural occurring phenomenon, strikes me as strange.”
Farage has also called wind energy “the biggest collective economic insanity I’ve seen in my entire life,” despite energy experts saying it is now the cheapest source of power, along with solar.
Widdecombe, who retired from Parliament in 2010, was one of only five MPs to oppose the 2008 Climate Change Act. The following year she told the Daily Express: “There is no climate change, hasn’t anybody looked out of their window recently?”
Annunziata Rees-Mogg is the sister Jacob Rees-Mogg, the “hard” Brexiteer Conservative MP and an opponent of measures to tackle climate change.
While editor of the investment magazine MoneyWeek, Annunziata Rees-Mogg wrote articles recommending how readers could best profit from the Canadian “tar sands” boom and predicted that coal was about to make a comeback to the UK.
In another article, though, on “How to profit from the world’s water crisis”, she noted that climate change “will mean more extreme weather conditions and more water in the sea.”
Gill told BBC Wales in 2015 that climate change was not human-caused and that it was “ridiculous” to think humans could change the climate.
He also said it was “complete stupidity to think by sticking a bunch of wind turbines all over Wales that we are somehow going to stop the weather from changing”.
The former editor of lads’ mag Loaded has tweeted numerous times about climate change, claiming that: “Evolution we can prove. Unless you’re blinded by faith. Climate change cannot be proven. Unless you’re blinded by faith?”
He has also tweeted positively about a Spectator article by climate science denier Matt Ridley, which reproduces a familiar trope that carbon dioxide is simply “plant food”. He also called a piece by long-time climate science denier James Delingpole that claimed climate change was responsible for “zero” deaths globally “superb.”
Monteith doubts (in his own words) the “harm” of climate change.
Montieth is a regular contributor to The Scotsman newspaper, and has argued that the BBC holding an editorial meeting to decide a line on climate change was “more worrying” than the Savile scandal in an article reposted approvingly by climate science denial campaign group the GWPF.
He registered his current address as in France on official election forms.
Not all of the successful Brexit party candidates have made such explicit statements on climate change. But some are tied to a well-established network of lobbyists based out of offices in and around 55 Tufton Street that push for mass deregulation, which could significantly stymie the UK’s efforts to address climate change.
A long-standing Brexiteer, Tice has called for a “no deal” outcome to the Brexit process, and urged the adoption of World Trade Organisation rules.
Together with businessman John Longworth, Tice co-founded Leave Means Leave, a pressure group campaigning for a hard Brexit. The organisation was previously based at 55 Tufton Street, along with numerous right-wing, free-market organisations including the UK’s principal climate science denial campaign group The Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Longworth chairs Leave Means Leave, a campaign group set up following the EU referendum which advocates for the adoption of World Trade Organisation rules. It was previously based at 55 Tufton Street and was accused by a whistle-blower of colluding with eight other organisations, including the Global Warming Policy Foundation, to push for a “hard” Brexit.
Longworth writes for Brexit Central, a news site edited by Taxpayers’ Alliance founder Matthew Elliott, and is on the advisory board of both the Institute of Economic Affairs free-market think tank and the Economists for Free Trade group, which backs a “no deal” Brexit and includes climate science deniers Jacob Rees-Mogg, Owen Paterson and Matt Ridley.
A couple of the Brexit Party candidates are more media talking heads than they are politicians, with ties to a trans-Atlantic network of lobbyists funded by the fossil fuel industry.
Fox runs libertarian think tank the Institute of Ideas, rejecting government intervention even on issues like child pornography and online terror videos.
She is a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and forms part of a pro-free market network based around the Spiked magazine, funded by US oil billionaires the Koch brothers, DeSmog and the Guardian previously revealed.
Fox has frequently tweeted about her denial of climate science, calling the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “advocacy research” and says treating the body as “high priests of The Science and final word on climate” would be a “betrayal of scientific inquiry.”
Read more about Claire Fox’s ties to a Koch-funded media network.
Michael Heaver is the co-founder of the UKIP-backed website Westmonster, launched in January 2017 with funding from Nigel Farage’s financier, multi-millionaire insurance tycoon Arron Banks.
Heaver has repeatedly expressed uncertainty about accepting mainstream views on climate change. Writing on Twitter in 2011, he said: “Climate change is an interesting one, I don’t exactly toe the line on that one. Far-left green movement worries me though.”
In a short blog post describing the launch of the Extinction Rebellion movement in Parliament square in October 2018, Westmonster described protesters as a “far-left mob who seem interested in maximum disruption”.
None of the above
Two of the new Brexit Party MEPs do seem to be supportive of climate action, however.
And TV personality Dr David Bull, new MEP for the North West, seems happy to acknowledge basic climate science, too.
They’ll be far from alone in as they take their seats, with dozens of Green party MEPs from across the continent flooding the EU’s legislature after a landmark night for the movement.
Image credit: The Brexit Party/Brian Minkoff/National Assembly for Wales/UCL Institute of Education (IOE)/Composite by DeSmog UK