Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have been urged to “get a grip” and ensure the COP26 happens in Glasgow after it emerged an alternative London venue has been looked at.
The two leaders were told to set aside their differences following reports that the UK Government had sounded out ExCel London about hosting the climate summit there.
According to the Financial Times, UK officials have been in discussions with the east London venue as a “fall-back option” should the event have to be moved from Glasgow.
The report follows a high-profile row between the two governments over the event which is due to be held at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus between November 9 and 19.
Concerns about mounting costs have been expressed ahead of the event and an attack on both governments was launched by Claire O’Neill, the former president of the conference who was sacked just before its official launch.
Ms O’Neill claimed the Scottish Government had acted “disgracefully” by booking the Glasgow Science Centre on the other side of the Clyde for use as its base during the conference.
Scottish ministers have insisted the Science Centre was only booked after organisers had secured the sites they needed.
She claimed the prime minister “heartily and saltily rebutted” her suggestion that Ms Sturgeon should have a role at the summit.
According to Ms O’Neil, Mr Johnson had said: “I’m not being driven out of Scotland by that bloody wee Jimmy Krankie woman” – alleged remarks that have been forcefully denied by Number 10.
It is normal for an event of this magnitude to have contingency measures”
UK Government source
The Financial Times quoted unnamed UK Government officials citing ExCel London as a “fall-back option” and adding: “It’s normal for an event of this magnitude to have contingency measures.”
At Westminster, the prime minister’s spokesman said that the UK Government was committed to holding the event in Glasgow.
The spokesman was then quoted as adding: “But the Scottish Government needs to work with us to ensure it is a successful summit.”
But another row erupted when the spokesman’s remarks drew an angry response from Ms Sturgeon on Twitter, who took issue with the implication that the Scottish Government had to do more to ensure the meeting’s success.
The first minister insisted the Scottish Government was fully committed to the summit and accused Mr Johnson of “playing politics” with the event.
This is just silly (& contradicts Gove y’day saying 2 govts working well on this). I’ve made crystal clear @scotgov commitment to making #COP26 a success and offered PM additional input from us – he hasn’t yet responded. If he insists on playing politics it will be on him, not me https://t.co/jFii0YjHgk
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) February 12, 2020
Lib Dem Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said: “It’s pathetic that when an opportunity arises to put Scotland at the forefront of the fight against climate change, all our two governments can do is bicker and snipe.
“Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon need to get a grip, put personal and political enmity aside and work together to make COP26 happen in Glasgow. It is a national embarrassment that our two governments can’t work together when the eyes of the world are on us.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland looks forward to welcoming the United Nations delegates and participants from around the world later this year. Glasgow is recognised internationally for its strong track record at hosting major international events and we are working collaboratively with the UK Government, Glasgow City Council, Police Scotland and other partners to ensure the conference is a success.
“The Scottish Government has had no notification of any intention to move the venue.”
The prime minister’s spokesman said: “We are committed to holding to COP26 in Glasgow. But the Scottish Government needs to work with us to ensure it’s a successful summit.”