Gove says 2030 ‘immovable’ date to ban new petrol cars sales as MPs tell Sunak to halt ‘mixed signals’ on climate policy – UK politics live

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Plan to replace gas boilers with heat pumps should be reviewed, says Gove

Here are the main quotes from Michael Gove in his morning interviews on net zero issues.

That is one area where I do think we need to review. It is important that new homes meet net-zero challenges but one of the challenges we have is with our existing housing stock.

There are proposals to decarbonise our existing housing stock which I think are the right direction to go but I think the cost of some of those changes may impose on homeowners, and indeed on landlords, I think at this point in time we do need to be careful about imposing.

Because we are living in a real cost-of-living challenge and what we don’t want to do is to force individuals to pay excessive sums at this stage, we need to take a proportionate approach.

  • But he said 2030 was immovable as the date when the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would stop. When he was asked if this date was “immovable”, he replied:

Yes. We’re committed to maintaining our policy of ensuring that by 2030 there are no new petrol and diesel cars being sold.

I’m sure there are some people who would like to change that policy, I understand. But that policy remains.

  • He said the government had to avoid a backlash against net zero measures. He told Times Radio:

It’s important that the government does press ahead with appropriate and thoughtful steps in order to safeguard the environment but there are some specific areas where the cost that is being imposed on individuals risks creating a backlash.

We don’t want to get to a situation where the support for improving our environment curdles and turns into resistance.

And he told Sky News:

We saw recently in the Netherlands that an inflexible approach to environmental rules actually led to a backlash and it now has a significant body of people who are unhappy about the steps being taken.

Michael Gove delivering his speech on housing yesterday.
Michael Gove delivering his speech on housing yesterday.
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Key events

Rishi Sunak has told Volodymyr Zelenskiy he is appalled by the recent Russian attack on Odesa. Downing Street said the PM expressed his horror when he spoke to the Ukrainian president this morning. In a readout of the call No 10 said:

The leaders discussed recent developments on the battlefield and the continued progress by Ukrainian forces despite the challenging conditions. The prime minister added that he was appalled by the devastation caused by recent Russian attacks on Odesa.

Discussing the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the leaders agreed on the importance of ensuring grain was able to be exported from Ukraine to reach international markets. The prime minister said the UK was working closely with Turkey on restoring the grain deal, and we would continue to use our role as chair of the UN security council to further condemn Russia’s behaviour.

Russia was increasingly looking to target merchant vessels in the Black Sea area and the UK was carefully monitoring the situation alongside our partners, the prime minister added.

The UK continued to support Ukraine’s air defence and artillery needs with more ammunition and missiles being delivered, the prime minister said.

Labour's decision to drop self-ID for trans people who want to transition criticised by Stonewall, but backed by Rosie Duffield

The Labour MP Rosie Duffield has welcomed her party’s new plans for reform of the law allowing transgender people to transition.

Anneliese Dodds, the Labour chair and shadow minister for women and equalities, set out the new position in an article for the Guardian. As Aubrey Allegretti reports, Labour is still committed to reforming the Gender Recognition Act but, influenced by the Scottish government’s unsuccessful attempt to change the law in Scotland, it is not proposing to allow self-declartion and people wanting a gender recognition certificate will still require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

This amounts to a weaker reform than Labour was proposing in its 2019 manifesto, which backed self-declaration (or self-ID) for trans people. The Conservatives have also retreated on this agenda. When Theresa May was PM, they were in favour of self-ID, but recently ministers strongly attacked the SNP over their self-ID plans.

Stonewall, the group campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights, has criticised Labour’s policy. In a statement released yesterday it said:

International leading practice has moved to a model based on legal self-determination. That is because it is inhumane and undignified to make trans people obtain a medical diagnosis to obtain legal gender recognition. An ever-growing number of countries have moved to, or are moving to, this model over the last fifteen years. In 2019, the World Health Organisation de-classified being trans as a mental health disorder.

If any political party wants to get the UK back on track for LGBTQ+ rights, they need to lean-in to international evidence, experience and best practice. Speak to Ireland, speak to Belgium, speak to New Zealand, Switzerland, Denmark, large parts of Canada, US and Australia. Review the evidence – which finds no known cases of fraudulent or criminal intent. They need to understand how legal gender recognition with a de-medicalised model is working in practice before formulating the detail of their policy.

But this morning Duffield, who as a gender critical feminist believes the extension of trans rights could undermine safeguards for biological woman and who has repeatedly criticised her party for its stance on trans issues, said Labour was now “going in the right direction”. She told the Today programme:

It looks broadly speaking as though they’re going in the right direction, and basically have just agreed with myself and other feminist activists and women’s groups, with what we’ve been saying for the last few years. It’s good to get a bit of clarity.

Duffield said she would like to see more detail of what Labour is proposing. But she said she was very glad the party is no longer committed to allowing people to change gender just through self-declaration. She said:

That is the core thing that feminists on my side of the argument wanted to stop. I’m really glad that that has been announced very clearly.

Rosie Duffield in the Commons.
Rosie Duffield in the Commons. Photograph: Uk Parliament/JESSICA TAYLOR/Reuters

Sunak claims government's housing policy 'not protectionist'

Rishi Sunak has insisted that the government’s approach to housing, set out most recently in a major speech by Michael Gove yesterday, is not protectionist. Writing in the Times, he says:

Meeting our one million homes target is just a stepping stone. To support more families to form and grow we need to continue with our plan to keep building. But this is not about uncontrolled development of the countryside. It is not just about more homes of any kind, anywhere, no matter what communities think. Homes must be built in the right places, where it makes sense. Communities must have a say …

Our approach is not protectionist, it’s targeted. More homes in the places where people want and need them.

Members of the Society of Radiographers who are on strike at 37 NHS trusts in England today, on the picket line outside the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton, south London, this morning.
Members of the Society of Radiographers who are on strike at 37 NHS trusts in England today, on the picket line outside the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton, south London, this morning. Photograph: Jordan Pettitt/PA

Households in temporary accommodation in England up 10% in past year, hitting record at 104,510, figures show

The number of households in temporary accommodation in England is at the highest level since records began 25 years ago, PA Media reports. PA says:

As of 31 March this year, 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation, up 10% from the same point last year, according to homelessness statistics released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Compared with the previous quarter, the number of households in temporary accommodation increased by 4%.

This latest figure surpasses a previous high of 101,300 reached in 2004, and is the highest among all the government figures available since 1998.

Plan to replace gas boilers with heat pumps should be reviewed, says Gove

Here are the main quotes from Michael Gove in his morning interviews on net zero issues.

That is one area where I do think we need to review. It is important that new homes meet net-zero challenges but one of the challenges we have is with our existing housing stock.

There are proposals to decarbonise our existing housing stock which I think are the right direction to go but I think the cost of some of those changes may impose on homeowners, and indeed on landlords, I think at this point in time we do need to be careful about imposing.

Because we are living in a real cost-of-living challenge and what we don’t want to do is to force individuals to pay excessive sums at this stage, we need to take a proportionate approach.

  • But he said 2030 was immovable as the date when the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would stop. When he was asked if this date was “immovable”, he replied:

Yes. We’re committed to maintaining our policy of ensuring that by 2030 there are no new petrol and diesel cars being sold.

I’m sure there are some people who would like to change that policy, I understand. But that policy remains.

  • He said the government had to avoid a backlash against net zero measures. He told Times Radio:

It’s important that the government does press ahead with appropriate and thoughtful steps in order to safeguard the environment but there are some specific areas where the cost that is being imposed on individuals risks creating a backlash.

We don’t want to get to a situation where the support for improving our environment curdles and turns into resistance.

And he told Sky News:

We saw recently in the Netherlands that an inflexible approach to environmental rules actually led to a backlash and it now has a significant body of people who are unhappy about the steps being taken.

Michael Gove delivering his speech on housing yesterday.
Michael Gove delivering his speech on housing yesterday.
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Gove to holiday on Greek island as he says travel to region is safe

It is still safe for tourists to travel to Rhodes in line with UK government advice, Michael Gove has said. The levelling up secretary added that he was planning to holiday on another Greek island himself next week. Ben Quinn has the story here.

This is from the Times’s Matt Chorley on what he thinks the government may be up to with its net zero messaging.

It’s almost like the government is happy for people to think this week that they might dial down the green stuff a bit, and then everyone will go on holiday and forget about it by the time they think about politics again in September

— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) July 25, 2023

Gove says 2030 ‘immovable’ date to ban new petrol cars sales as MPs tell Sunak to halt ‘mixed signals’ on climate policy

Good morning. Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, has been giving interviews this morning and talking, among other things, about the government’s approach to net zero policies. He was quite specific on a couple of points, but to say that he cleared things up would be going too far. Over the last few days, in government pronouncements on this topic, there has been more ambiguity than in a modernist poem.

All of this has been quite good for those of us paid to report what the government is saying and explain what it means. But for producers trying to plan on the basis of what government rules will be for cars and boilers etc over the next decade, the uncertainty has been less welcome.

To recap: a significant number of Tory MPs, and rightwing papers, have always opposed net zero measures that will impose costs on consumers and on Friday their hand was strengthened after the Conservatives unexpectedly won the Uxbridge and South Ruislip byelection, almost certainly because of a backlash about the extension of Ulez. That led to media reports on Saturday saying the government was rethinking its support for green measures, and a day later the Sunday Telegraph splashed on an interview with Gove headlined: “Gove: net zero can’t become a crusade.” On Monday, when Rishi Sunak was asked in an interview if he was still committed to stopping the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, he gave a reply best summarised by Politico, which said he sounded “a bit U-turnish on some of his net zero plans”. At the lobby briefing an hour or so later the PM’s spokesperson said the government was, in fact, committed to the petrol/diesel new car ban from 2030. But separate briefing implied this was one of several measures that could be subject to review.

This morning Gove said that 2030 was “immovable” as the date when the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would take effect. But he did say that government proposals for gas boilers to be banned from newly built homes from 2025, with all gas boiler installation phased out from 2035, could be reviewed. I will post more from his interviews shortly.

Did that help? On gas boilers, probably. But on petrol and diesel cars? Gove has form for confidently asserting things on the Today programme that turn out not to be the case – during Brexit he insisted a key vote would definitely go ahead on hours before it was shelved – and so you might think twice before making a car factory investment on the basis of a Gove comment in a radio interview.

Gove was speaking as a group of MPs released an open letter to the prime minister urging him to avoid “mixed signals” on the UK’s commitment to climate action. In their letter, the all-party parliamentary group on climate said:

The Climate Change Committee’s recent 2023 progress report to parliament is unequivocal that mixed signals on the UK’s commitment to serious climate action is undermining this work, damaging our reputation, and risks us permanently surrendering our status as a world leader on climate action.

Now is a crucial moment for you to demonstrate to the world that the UK is not demoting itself to become a passive observer in international action on climate change, that we remain a trusted partner and committed to delivering on our promises.

Fiona Harvey has more on the letter here.

There is not much in the diary for today, but here are two items that may produce news.

9.30am: The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities publishes homelessness statistics.

10am: Jeremy Quin, the Cabinet Office minister, gives evidence to the infected blood inquiry.

Also, Lee Rowley, the local government minister, is hosting a roundtable meeting in Downing Street on plans announced overnight to speed up planning decisions for large infrastructure projects.

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