Steve Baker

Steve Baker

Credentials

Background

Steve Baker has been the Conservative MP for Wycombe since 2010. Baker is a long-time Eurosceptic, having co-founded in 2015 Conservatives for Britain, a campaign organisation formed just after the General Election of that year to lobby for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.3Steve Baker MP,” UK Government. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/fXwBQ 4David Pegg, Felicity Lawrence, Rob Evans. “Steve Baker, the ex-Brexit minister hell-bent on torpedoing May’s Chequers plan,” The Guardian, September 30, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/okeCD

In May 2021, Baker joined the Board of Trustees of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Britain’s most prominent climate science denial group, based at 55 Tufton Street, a hub for pro-Brexit pressure groups.5Rachel Sherrington. “Brexit Hardman’ Steve Baker MP Joins Climate Denial Group,” DeSmog, May 21, 2021. 6Tom Bawden. “The address where Eurosceptics and climate change sceptics rub shoulders,” The Independent, February 10, 2016. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/PSL5U The president of Conservatives for Britain was Lord Nigel Lawson, founder of the GWPF.7Catherine Neilan. “EU referendum: Lord Lawson to head up Brexit group Conservatives for Britain, warning negotiations will yield “wafer thin” reforms,” CityAM, October 1, 2015. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Baker has become a vocal critic of the government’s plans to decarbonise the economy by 2050, writing an article for The Sun that claimed “the cost of Net Zero could deliver a political crisis greater than the Poll Tax.”8Steve Baker. “STEVE BAKER The ‘Net Zero’ boiler ban will leave Britain’s poorest out in the cold,” May 25, 2021. Archived June 1, 2021. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/AK8NK

Baker has also written about the “eye-watering costs” of net zero policies for Net Zero Watch, a campaign launched and managed by the Global Warming Policy Foundation that claims to “scrutinise” the UK government’s net zero emissions plans and provide a “clear view of the reality of climate and energy policies”.9Steve Baker. “‘Winging it’ for Net Zero is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” Net Zero Watch. Archived October 11, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/tWOj5

Steve Baker became chairman of the European Research Group in 2016, a publicly-funded group of Conservatives in Parliament aiming to secure a “hard” Brexit. The group consists of as many as 80 pro-Brexit MPs and has been led since January 2018 by hard-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg. The group has always taken a Eurosceptic stance, having emerged in 1994 out of the opposition to the Maastricht Treaty within the Conservative Party.10David Pegg, Felicity Lawrence, Rob Evans. “Steve Baker, the ex-Brexit minister hell-bent on torpedoing May’s Chequers plan,” The Guardian, September 30, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/okeCD 11Sebastian Whale. “The ERG: a party within a party?,” PoliticsHome, September 27, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

In September 2017, the ERG was in the spotlight when OpenDemocracy revealed taxpayers’ money was being used to fund research for the group, despite expenses rules being against such funding.12Crina Boros, Adam Ramsay, James Cusick. “Revealed: The Tory MPs using taxpayers’ cash to fund a secretive hard-Brexit group,” OpenDemocracy, September 7, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/d1KLt

In the period leading up to the EU referendum in 2016, Baker was one of a number of ERG members who held positions in the official pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave. Baker took a donation in 2016 from the Constitutional Research Council (CRC) when he was chair of the ERG. The CRC was later revealed to be behind a £435,000 donation to the Democratic Unionist Party, which was spent on pro-Brexit advertising.13About the campaign,” Vote leave, take control. Archived December 7, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/PMq23 14Adam Ramsay, Peter Geoghegan. “The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea,” OpenDemocracy, July 1, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/d1KLt 15Jessica Elgot. “Tories seek to block move to reveal donations to DUP in EU referendum,” The Guardian, March 7, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Baker resigned as a minister in the Brexit department on 9 July 2018, following the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis.16UK Brexit department minister Steve Baker resigns – government source,” Reuters, July 9, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/16Vd0

Baker and Davis’ resignations were part of the wider Brexiteer response to the Chequers Statement of the UK’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit. Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, Davis and Baker saw Theresa May’s Chequers plan as keeping the UK too closely connected to the EU and failing to deliver on the “take back control” mantra of the original Leave campaign. The Chequers plan presented a compromise that left neither the Remainers nor the hard Brexiteers satisfied, hence the resignations of key Brexit cheerleaders and subsequent re-grouping of the Tory Brexiteers on the backbenches.17At-a-glance: The new UK Brexit plan agreed at Chequers,” BBC News, July 7, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ZIR8g 18Theresa May faces Brexiteer pressure to change Chequers plan,” Herald Scotland Online, July 16, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/or1ky 19Theresa May accepts Brexiter amendments to Government’s customs plan,” ITV News, July 16, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/s3Sfj

Baker co-founded a free-market thinktank called The Cobden Centre in 2010, inspired by the ideas of Austrian School economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. In 2018, he was criticised for failing to declare his involvement with the organisation in Parliament’ register of interests.20Peter Geoghegan. “UK minister under fire for failure to declare links to pro-Brexit think tank,” The Ferret, January 17, 2018. Archived April 3, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/qjzFt

Stance on Climate Change

October 5, 2021

At a 2021 Conservative Party Conference event hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Baker said that much of climate science is “contestable” and “sometimes propagandised,” while claiming that some UN climate scenarios were “implausible”.21Adam Barnett. “Tory MP Steve Baker Claims Much Climate Science is ‘Contestable’ at Party Conference,” DeSmog, October 5, 2021. Archived October 6, 2021. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/8dCRo

​​Baker said: 

“A lot of the science is absolutely settled. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’ve emitted plenty of it. That will have contributed to climate change. Lots of it is actually still contestable, but that’s not really the point.”

He continued: 

“Interested as I am as a chartered aerospace engineer who used to work on thermodynamics, with an MSc in computer science, capable of understanding models – fascinated as I am, I am not having that conversation about the science. But I have to say, the science is sometimes propagandised.”

Baker also criticised the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate science, claiming: “The most dramatic and scary IPCC scenarios, the extreme ones that lead to disaster and doom, aren’t going to happen. They are implausible.”

December 19, 2010

In a piece for Conservative Home, Baker wrote:22Steve Baker. “The greatest threat to civilisation is not climate change but bad economics,” ConservativeHome, December 19, 2010. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

“I am deeply concerned about climate change and how we deal with it, about resource depletion, about population growth and about the problem of how to improve the lot of the world’s desperately poor, but I am most concerned about bad economics. […] What we need today more than urgent action on climate change is a paradigm shift in economic thinking. ”

Key Quotes

October 11, 2021

Speaking to talkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer about the UK’s energy crisis, Baker said that to “deal with the problem of intermittency” of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, the UK should be “going for gas” and building up its nuclear capacity to secure its energy supply.23Steve Baker from the Covid Recovery Group tells Julia Britain must “go for gas” to address the energy crisis and costs of going for net zero. “We should go for the gas we have under our feet and making sure we’re not so dependent on Vladimir Putin.”” Tweet by @talkRADIO, October 11, 2021. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/KGelF

Baker also called the decision by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) to refuse Shell’s request to continue developing its Jackdaw gas field “pathological” and “self-harming.”24UK regulator rejects Shell’s plans to develop N.Sea gasfield -sources,” Reuters, October 6, 2021. Archived October 9, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/2MZIi/

He added: “We really should be going for the gas we have, the gas that’s under our feet with shale, developing the gasfields we have” and “making sure we’re not so dependent on Vladimir Putin”.

August 15, 2021

In an interview for i News about the government’s Net Zero policies, Baker said that the government would face “another absolute political fiasco” if it failed to “confront the cost of net zero now”.25Francis Elliott. “‘Brexit hardman’ Steve Baker helped put Boris Johnson in power – and could prove his undoing over net zero,” i News, August 15, 2021. Archived August 21, 2021. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/JhG6D While he noted that there is “undoubtedly a political consensus we should go to net zero,” Baker also warned that imposing the costs of a net zero transition too quickly would lead to political backlash and drive voters towards parties like Reform UK and UKIP.

Baker also said that he was “absolutely clear that climate change is a real thing, and that human-emitted carbon dioxide has contributed to it, and that we should do something about it,” adding that “the idea that we should do nothing is dangerous and foolish”.

Baker also spoke about the public reception of net zero policies, saying: “I do not see how we get any government elected on an open and frank manifesto of making the public poorer and colder. The only way that could be done is if the public genuinely believed that the Earth was about to burn. And that I think is why we then see the IPCC report being presented in a way that encourages people to be terrified.”

July 28, 2021

In a tweet about the impact of the government’s net zero policies, Baker claimed that people may have to adjust their diets to replace meat with insects by 2030, tweeting:26Research promoted by the taxpayer-funded UK Research and Innovation Council said the nation may have to swap bangers and beef burgers for I’m a Celeb-style jungle substitutes made of gross insects by 2030.,” Tweet by @SteveBakerHW, July 28, 2021. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

“Research promoted by the taxpayer-funded UK Research and Innovation Council said the nation may have to swap bangers and beef burgers for I’m a Celeb-style jungle substitutes made of gross insects by 2030.”

The claim was fact-checked by Carbon Brief Deputy Editor Simon Evans, who tweeted:27Simon Evans. “Factcheck: False. The @theCCCuk balanced net-zero pathway involves a 20% reduction in meat & dairy by 2030 – continuing the trajectory of recent trends. It makes no mention of “gross insects”. (And other pathways to net-zero are available),” Tweet by @DrSimEvans, August 12, 2021. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

“Factcheck: False. The @theCCCuk balanced net-zero pathway involves a 20% reduction in meat & dairy by 2030 – continuing the trajectory of recent trends. It makes no mention of “gross insects”. (And other pathways to net-zero are available)”

December 19, 2010

In a post for the Conservative Home website in 2010, Baker wrote:28Steve Baker. “The greatest threat to civilisation is not climate change but bad economics,” ConservativeHome, December 19, 2010. Archived December 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

“[B]ad economic science is a greater threat to civilisation than climate change.”

“Climate science does appear to be subject to uncertainties and climate change appears to be a problem we face in the medium to long term. But I remember the fuel protests. I lived in a remote Cotswold hamlet and I came close to running out of food as well as fuel. I remember the queues and the anxiety and how quickly the situation developed. I remember thinking that we were only ever a couple of meals from barbarism. Perhaps resource depletion is a greater threat than climate change.”

Key Actions

October 11, 2021

On the day Net Zero Watch, a campaign led and managed by the Global Warming Policy Forum, launched, Baker published an article titled “‘Winging it’ for Net Zero is a catastrophe waiting to happen” on the campaign’s website.29Steve Baker. “‘Winging it’ for Net Zero is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” Net Zero Watch. Archived October 11, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/tWOj5

In the article, Baker claimed that successive governments, “Whitehall bureaucrats” and the government’s Climate Change Committee have been working on net zero policies for “well over a decade now” and “still have little or no idea how Net Zero can be achieved, beyond a vague idea that we should electrify everything and have lots of energy from windfarms”.

Baker also criticised the practicality and “eye-watering costs” of a proposed energy solutions, including wind, pumped hydropower, batteries, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Baker continued:

“…successive governments, egged on by the CCC, the renewables industry, and the green movement have told us we must “keep fossil fuels in the ground”. […] So we first made the electricity grid unwelcoming for gas-fired power stations, then we neutered the nascent shale gas industry with absurd regulations, and then we banned it completely.”

Baker also called for ministers to “get a grip and liberate the private sector to go for gas, right now.”

May 25, 2021

Baker wrote an article for The Sun criticising the government’s plans to ban gas boilers within 14 years as part of its 2050 net zero emissions strategy, which would also involve installing 600,000 heat pumps by 2028. Baker disputed the effectiveness of heat pump installation, writing: “If you live in an older property, you might well have to spend many thousands more on fitting enough insulation to make a heat pump viable,” adding: “And once you have spent all that money, your house may well be colder than before.”30Steve Baker. “STEVE BAKER The ‘Net Zero’ boiler ban will leave Britain’s poorest out in the cold,” May 25, 2021. Archived June 1, 2021. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/AK8NK

Elsewhere in the article, Baker stated that as a result of policies aimed at minimising carbon emissions “We are on the path to poverty, misery and a failure to inspire the world to decarbonise.” Arguing that “the cost of Net Zero could deliver a political crisis greater than the Poll Tax,” Baker added that the government’s policies could lead to a “terrible revolt”.

Baker’s article was praised by Spiked writer Ben Pile, who wrote: “Baker’s intervention is notable by its rarity.” Pile added: “It has been a long time since any elected politician has said anything to defend the voters’ interests against the green ideology that has captured the British establishment.”31Ben Pile. “The crippling cost of Net Zero,” Spiked, May 26, 2021. Archived June 1, 2021. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/Rl6Lw

November 18, 2020

Commenting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution,” Baker tweeted: “I am increasingly concerned by the huge costs which these policies will impose on struggling individuals, families and businesses as we recover from the dreadful hit of coronavirus on livelihoods,” citing a GWPF article which described Johnson’s policies as “shallow gesture politics” with “severely negative economic implications.”32I am increasingly concerned by the huge costs which these policies will impose on struggling individuals, families and businesses as we recover from the dreadful hit of coronavirus on livelihoods. These issues deserve closer attention as we level up”, Tweet by @SteveBakerhw, November 18, 2020. Retrieved from twitter.com. Archived.png on file at DeSmog. 33Boris’ ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ is Economic Lockdown, for ever…,” The Global Warming Policy Forum, November 18, 2020. Archived November 23, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/y5EcI

December 23, 2019

Baker received a £2,000 donation from Jon Moynihan, chair of the Initiative for Free Trade, former chair of the Vote Leave Finance Committee, and former trustee for the Institute of Economic Affairs.34Register of Members’ Financial Interests – as at 10 February 2020,” UK ParliamentArchived March 4, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 35About,” Initiative for Free Trade. Archived March 4, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/8wfAA 36Jon Moynihan,” Brexit Central. Archived March 4, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qfuMn 37Institute of Economic Affairs appoints Jon Moynihan OBE to its Board of Trustees,” IEA, June 5, 2018. Archived March 4, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ilpyO

On the same day, he registered a donation of £3,000 from Bruno Prior, another trustee of the Institute of Economic Affairs.38Register of Members’ Financial Interests – as at 10 February 2020,” UK ParliamentArchived March 4, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 39Trustees,” IEA. Archived March 4, 2020. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/7jlja

August 2018 

Emails obtained by OpenDemocracy show Baker continued to have meetings with the hard Brexit European Research Group while a Minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union. The ministerial code says MPs must cut ties with the group when they are promoted into government positions. The meetings were not recorded in the department’s transparency log, OpenDemocracy reported.40James Cusick, Jenna Corderoy, Peter Geoghegan. “Ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker remained in charge of secretive Tory ultra faction,” OpenDemocracy, August 29, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/V59h0

July, 2018

Baker was implicated in an undercover investigation by Unearthed that suggests the Institute of Economic Affairs was receiving cash to get funders access to ministers, including Baker. IEA chief executive Mark Littlewood told the reporters he had been used as a “slight shill” to hide some of Baker’s meetings with IEA analyst Shanker Singham.41Lawrence Carter, Alice Ross. “A leading think tank brokered access to ministers for US donors looking to influence Brexit,” Unearthed, July 29, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/6Ffcz

Baker is also revealed to have co-ordinated the creation and running of a WhatsApp group for backbench MPs who are given voting instructions through it by Baker. This “party within a party” is highly Eurosceptic, containing mostly members of the ERG, and leaked messages from the group show Baker asking MPs to vote for ERG Amendments to the Taxation (Cross Border) Trade Bill.42Christopher Hope. “Tory rebels set up WhatsApp plot to thwart Theresa May’s Brexit plan,” The Telegraph, July 15, 2018. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/jbbkT

January 17, 2018

The Ferret revealed that Baker had failed to declare in Parliament’s register of interests his links to the pro-Brexit Cobden Centre thinktank he co-founded in 2010.43Peter Geoghegan. “UK minister under fire for failure to declare links to pro-Brexit think tank,” The Ferret, January 17, 2018. Archived April 3, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/qjzFt

July, 2017

Baker accepted a donation of as much as £6,500 from the Constitutional Research Council, a group that channelled £435,000 to the Democratic Union Party, OpenDemocracy revealed. The money was used for pro-Leave advertising and across the UK.44Crina Boros, Adam Ramsay, James Cusick. “Revealed: The Tory MPs using taxpayers’ cash to fund a secretive hard-Brexit group,” OpenDemocracy, September 7, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/d1KLt

OpenDemocracy also revealed that during 2013, Baker was a director of the company Thermal Engineering Ltd., which is involved in arms dealing in Saudi Arabia.45Adam Ramsay, Peter Geoghegan. “The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea,” OpenDemocracy, July 1, 2017. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/d1KLt

May, 2017

Baker was one of 70 signatories on a letter to the BBC claiming their coverage of Brexit was biased. Of these 70, 12 are connected to the 55 Tufton Street climate science denier network, including Baker.46Kyla Mandel. “MPs Who Complained About BBC’s Brexit Coverage Linked to Network of Hardline Euro-Climate Sceptics,” DeSmog, March 23, 2017.

December, 2013

Baker voted against allowing carbon dioxide emissions limits to be set at power stations with pollution abatement equipment fitted. Baker has generally voted against climate change measures previously.47Energy Bill — Enabling Carbon Dioxide Emissions Limits to be Applied to Stations Which Fit Pollution Abatement Equipment,” TheyWorkForYou, December 4, 2013. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/rNq1H 48Steve Baker voting record on climate change,” TheyWorkForYou. Archived December 10, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/m1kQd

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