Number 10 is plotting to cut First Minister Nicola Sturgeon out of COP26 to prevent it becoming an “advert” for independence, according to leaked messages.
Advisers from Number 10 and the UK Cabinet Office have been drawing up plans to stop the first minister from stealing the limelight at the upcoming COP26 summit.
COP26 will take place in Glasgow from October 31 until November 12, with leaders from all over the world expected to descend on the city.
However WhatsApp messages and notes seen by The Independent suggest there are fears the first minister will hijack the summit for her own political ends.
Fears COP26 becomes independence advert
The leaked messages say any public statements made about the climate summit should focus on Glasgow as a city in the UK rather than Scotland, with any other mentions of Scotland including a reference to its place within the UK wherever possible.
Fears shared in the messages include “we can’t let this be used as an advert for an independence campaign”, or a “soapbox for her independence obsession”.
Notes suggest Prime Minister Boris Johnson should avoid sharing a platform with Ms Sturgeon in the run-up and during the event, and he should also include the other devolved leaders wherever possible in a bid to “neutralise” her.
Other leaked messages also say the Union flag must be displayed as much as possible.
First minister hits back at claims
Ms Sturgeon has since said anyone who allows politics to get in the way of tackling the climate emergency at COP26 “would be abdicating that responsibility”.
She said: “All that matters is that COP26 delivers an outcome to meet the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
All that matters is that COP26 delivers an outcome to meet the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. We must work together and maximise contributions towards that. Anyone – me or PM – who allowed politics to get in way would be abdicating that responsibility https://t.co/F7ciE316Jt
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 4, 2021
“We must work together and maximise contributions towards that.
“Anyone – me or the prime minister – who allowed politics to get in [the] way would be abdicating that responsibility.”
It is understood the Scottish Government is “infuriated” so much energy in the planning for COP26 is being spent on efforts to keep the union together rather than addressing the climate emergency.”