Top Tory Kemi Badenoch reacted with outrage this morning when a Sky News presenter claimed the poorest in society don’t drive cars.
The row came amid Rishi Sunak’s decision to row back from a 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales, saying it is unfair to ask people to fork out tens of thousands for expensive electric cars during a cost of living crisis.
Taking to the airwaves this morning, Ms Badenoch defended the Government’s new net zero plans, arguing yesterday’s announcement was about “making sure the transition to net zero is done in a fair and proportionate way”.
Pressed on the Government’s new electric vehicles target, Sky’s Jayne Secker claimed the changes won’t “really help the poorest in society”, as “the poorest in society don’t drive in this country”.
Ms Badenoch leapt on the comments, calling it a “ludicrous statement” and inviting the presenter to step outside of London.
She said: “If you step outside of London – come to my constituency – you will find the poorest in society drive because they live in a rural area.
“What you said is actually quite astonishing!”
Ms Secker said it was not an astonishing claim, arguing one-third of the country doesn’t drive.
Ms Badenoch pointed out: “People who live in cities will be able to deal with this in a way that is quite different from people who live in towns and rural areas.
“We need to think about everybody not just the metropolitan bubble.”
Refusing to back down, the presenter said she was from Newcastle and “this has nothing to do with an urban or metropolitan bubble”.
The Business and Trade secretary shot her down once more, telling Ms Secker: “I’m afraid that my constituents raise these concerns all the time and those who are least able to afford it are the ones who are making the most complaints.”
Last night Toyota came out to support the Government’s decision to delay the 2030 deadline, saying the announcement was “welcome” as it “provides the clarity industry has been asking for”.
A statement said: “Toyota fully shares the Prime Minister’s key goal of zero carbon, and is committed to achieving the Government’s target of zero emissions vehicles from 2035 in the UK.”
A poll from YouGov shows 50 percent of Brits back Mr Sunak’s bold move, compared to 34 percent who oppose him.
Labour has since come out to say they will reinstitute the 2030 deadline if they win power next year.
In response, a Tory spokesperson said Sir Keir Starmer isn’t being clear with the country about the upfront cost of net zero.
They said: “The Prime Minister understands the trade-offs households face. That’s why he’s set out a fair plan that protects families budgets and consumer choice.
“Starmer should let families and firms decide what’s right for them.”