David Cameron has insisted he remains committed to the environmental agenda despite reports he has told aides to “get rid of all this green crap”.
The Prime Minister played down suggestions of a U-turn after newspapers reported a senior Tory source describing his determination to strip out green levies which push up energy bills.
“The Prime Minister is going round Number 10 saying ‘We have got to get rid of all this green crap’. He is totally focused on it,” the source said. “We used to say ‘Vote Blue, Go Green’, now it’s ‘Vote Blue, Get Real’.”
Downing Street said it “did not recognise” the phrase.
Mr Cameron was asked by journalists whether he still believed in the environmental agenda. He replied: “We have got the world’s first green investment bank, we have got great support for our green technology industries. We have got the first nuclear power station since 1995. This is a government investing in important green technologies.”
Ahead of the 2010 general election, Mr Cameron highlighted his commitment to the environment with a trip to the Arctic Circle to view the impact of global warming, and told voters they could “Vote Blue, Go Green”.
He has regularly stated his determination to lead the “greenest government ever”.
But he dismayed some environmentalists by telling the House of Commons last month that he wanted to “roll back” the green levies which add an average £112 a year to home energy bills to fund renewable power subsidies and programmes to insulate homes.
Downing Street said this did not mean the PM had abandoned his commitment to the environment.
On his regular LBC 97.3 phone-in, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Mr Cameron’s views were not reflected by the reported comments. “The Prime Minister and I, funnily enough, were discussing it just yesterday. I don’t think that’s a fair reflection of his views,” the Lib Dem leader said.
“We both want to see policies, where we are control of them in government, made as cost-effective as possible without cutting our commitment to reducing carbon commitments and looking after the environment.”
Mr Clegg said ministers were trying to reduce the costs but were “not going to abandon the long-term objective” of investing and supporting green jobs.
He also defended green levies, saying “it isn’t all crap”.
A Downing Street source said: “Mr Cameron has been clear about rolling back the impact of levies on energy bills, but last week in Sri Lanka stressed the importance of tackling climate change.”