Aviation Tycoon Paid for Anti-Net Zero MP’s Tory Gala Ticket

Steve Baker, who ran Suella Braverman’s failed Conservative leadership campaign and now supports Liz Truss, had the £2,000 ticket covered by Brexit Party donor Christopher Harborne.
Former Brexit Minister Steve Baker. Credit: Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0) and Andreas Weiland (CC0 1.0)

A leading opponent of climate action in parliament accepted a £2,000 gift from a businessman in the aviation industry, highlighting concerns over the influence of high-carbon interests on British politics.

Wycombe MP Steve Baker – who leads an anti-net zero grouping in parliament – attended the Conservative Party’s summer ball last month with a ticket paid for by aviation fuel executive Christopher Harborne, according to the latest register of interests.

It comes as a record UK heatwave and the contest to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson have seen growing scrutiny of politicians’ record on climate change.

Harborne owns AML Global, an aviation fuel supplier operating in 1,200 locations globally and with a distribution network that includes “main and regional oil companies”, according to its website. Harborne is also CEO of Sheriff Global Group, which trades private jets, Politics Home reports. 

Harborne has a history of supporting opponents of climate action, having donated £6.5 million to climate science denier Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party – now Reform UK – in the run-up to the 2019 general election, according to Electoral Commission records. 

Before that, he had donated £279,000 to the Conservatives and was a member of the party’s elite “Leader’s Group” of donors, DeSmog analysis of official data previously found.

“The reasons for feet dragging in committing to action on net zero from Conservative leadership candidates is becoming ever clearer”, Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay told DeSmog. 

“This is a party up to its neck in fossil fuels and saturated by climate sceptics, many of whom were former Brexit Party supporters,” he added.

Gala Ticket

Baker, a former Brexit minister, is deputy chair of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group in parliament, and a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which published a paper in April claiming there is “no evidence of a climate crisis”.

In this month’s Tory leadership contest, Baker was campaign manager for Attorney General Suella Braverman, who vowed to “suspend the all-consuming desire” to achieve net-zero by 2050. Braverman has since been knocked out of the race, and Baker now backs Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has a record of opposing climate action.

Baker attended the V&A Museum in London for last month’s Tory fundraising event, which charged £20,000 for a table and auctioned prizes including a £30,000 wine tasting session, a £37,000 shooting weekend, and a £120,000 dinner with the last three prime ministers.

“It’s unsurprising that the MP trying the hardest to put the brakes on climate action accepts gifts from those profiting from fuelling the extreme heat the UK just experienced,” said Alethea Warrington, campaigns manager at climate charity Possible. 

“What remains surprising is that any MP indebted to the fossil fuel industry can remain in a position to influence the UK’s vital climate policies. At an absolute minimum, all MPs must stop taking dirty money from oil and gas companies, and support real action now to protect people from the escalating climate crisis.”

Last week, DeSmog reported that another anti-net zero candidate, Kemi Badenoch, who has also now been knocked out, received a ticket for a Tory ball in 2019 from Australian hedge fund manager Michael Hintze, a GWPF funder. 

Aviation’s Climate Impacts

Harborne’s company Sherriff Global is registered in the British Virgin Islands and was mentioned in the Panama Papers as an intermediary of offshore entities. 

Last month, Harborne became the third biggest shareholder in QinetiQ, a military contractor which “makes robots for the military and is developing top-secret laser weapons technology”, according to the Telegraph.

He is also director of Bangkok-based investment company Seaminco Securities under the name Chakrit Sakunkrit, according to The Times

Before the pandemic, aviation emissions accounted for eight percent of the UK’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, the government’s Climate Change Committee says

This week, the government’s new “Jet Zero” strategy, which aims to cut aviation emissions and stated that Brits could fly “guilt-free”,  was criticised as “pure greenwash” by environmental groups. 

Shaun Spiers, executive director at think-tank Green Alliance, told DeSmog: “Boris Johnson often kept bad company when it comes to climate scepticism. The important thing is that he has remained committed to climate action throughout his time as prime minister.

“It is important the next prime minister, whoever it is, looks at the evidence and takes the climate action we so badly need.”

Steve Baker, Christopher Harborne and AML Global did not respond when contacted for comment. 

Aviation Tycoon Paid for Anti-Net Zero MP’s Tory Gala Ticket
Adam Barnett is DeSmog's UK ews Reporter. He is a former Staff Writer at Left Foot Forward and BBC Local Democracy Reporter.
Aviation Tycoon Paid for Anti-Net Zero MP’s Tory Gala Ticket
Phoebe is Senior Reporter at DeSmog. She previously trained as a news reporter across local titles in Essex and East London, with her work since appearing in the Independent, Evening Standard, The Sun Online, Deutsche Welle, and The Local and Prospect Magazine.
Aviation Tycoon Paid for Anti-Net Zero MP’s Tory Gala Ticket
Michaela is Database Researcher at DeSmog. She joined DeSmog in June 2021, having previously worked as a freelance researcher and as a podcast producer for the US Centre at the London School of Economics.

Related Posts

on

The Vermont senator nevertheless supported final passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, calling it "a step forward" on climate and drug prices.

The Vermont senator nevertheless supported final passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, calling it "a step forward" on climate and drug prices.
on

Campaigners say action on climate change is in jeopardy if MPs such as climate science denier John Redwood are granted key posts.

Campaigners say action on climate change is in jeopardy if MPs such as climate science denier John Redwood are granted key posts.
on

British Airways owner IAG led the list of buyers last year, analysis shows.

British Airways owner IAG led the list of buyers last year, analysis shows.
on

The protesters attempted to draw attention to the urgent need for large-scale climate action and pressure Democrat legislators to act.

The protesters attempted to draw attention to the urgent need for large-scale climate action and pressure Democrat legislators to act.