Mine your manners: BBC climate editor snaps at weaselly Boris Johnson in row over coal – Telegraph.co.uk

The BBC’s climate editor suggested that Boris Johnson was “weaselly” during an exchange about a new coal mine in Cumbria.

In an interview to mark the beginning of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow on Monday, Justin Rowlatt asked Mr Johnson whether the Government would allow the building of the mine, which has been criticised by eco campaigners.

Opponents of the project say it undermines the purpose of Cop26 and will pump more carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Mr Rowlatt said: “You’re going to the developing world and saying ‘phase out coal’, at the same time as not ruling out a new coal mine in Britain.

“Why don’t you just say we’re just not going to open this coal mine?

“The Chinese will just say: ‘We can’t take this guy seriously.’”

After Mr Johnson quoted some statistics about the sources of the UK’s energy in response, Mr Rowlatt, whose sister is an Extinction Rebellion protester, replied: “I’m sorry to bang on about coal, but it makes you look a little bit weaselly not answering the coal question.”

“Sorry, I’ve answered the coal question,” the Prime Minister replied.

Prime Minister ‘not in favour of more coal’

The on-screen dispute comes after Nick Robinson, one of the presenters of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, told Mr Johnson to “stop talking” during an interview last month.

The appearance on Today was the Prime Minister’s first since 2019, when Conservative sources claimed the programme was “irrelevant” and refused to allow ministers to appear on it.

Downing Street declined to comment on the altercation.

A BBC spokesman said: “This was a lively, robust interview which challenged the Prime Minister ahead of Cop26 on whether he was being consistent in his opposition to coal production, one of his key priorities at the summit. 

“It prompted the Prime Minister to make clear he was not in favour of a new coal mine in the UK.”

During Monday’s interview, Mr Johnson insisted that the site was “not a decision for me, it’s a decision for local planning authorities”.

The ruling on the Cumbrian mine rests with the UK Government, not with local authorities, since it was called in-house by Robert Jenrick, then Housing Secretary, in March this year.

The development, first proposed in 2017, has been approved three times by Cumbria County Council. However, Mr Jenrick opted to hold an inquiry to explore the arguments put forward by both supporters and opponents.