Divided loyalties: Interview with John Gummer

Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change John Gummer (Lord Deben) talks to Chris Seekings about Brexit and the UK’s role as an environmental leader outside the EU

Described by Friends of the Earth as “the best environment secretary the UK has ever had”, John Gummer is someone whom surely many wish was still in government, at a time when environmental protections look increasingly precarious. 

With a career in politics spanning almost five decades, his current position in the House of Lords might be his most important to date – even more so than when he served under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and John Major in the 1990s.

Lord Deben, as he is known today, is responsible for overseeing arguably the most crucial piece of legislation to pass through parliament in a generation: the EU Withdrawal Bill.

This is intended to transfer all existing EU law into official UK statutes, including the environmental regulations that have seen Britain shed its image as the ‘dirty man of Europe’ over the past 45 years.

Delivering Brexit

With Lord Deben rescheduling our chat several times amid huge media interest in the bill, it dawns on me that I am about to speak to one of the few people actively shaping the future trajectory of the UK for decades to come.

I start by asking what the initial reaction has been to ...

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