The two men appeared on the GB News talk show ‘Talking Pints’ appropriately armed; Nigel Farage with a pint of bitter, while Alex Deane quaffed almost two bottles of eight per cent ABV Belgian beer La Chouffe during the 14-minute segment.
Deane and Farage discussed the consultant’s previous job as chief-of-staff to former Prime Minister David Cameron while in opposition, before the presenter pressed Deane on whether the current Government is Conservative enough in its approach to policy.
During an exchange about the environment, Farage claimed: “Boris Johnson has turned the Conservative Party into the Green Party. He has become the global high priest of carbon reduction.”
The UK will host the United Nations’ COP26 summit in Glasgow in November and the issue of climate change is steadily climbing the policy agenda for all mainstream political parties.
Meanwhile, FTI boasts a number of clients, including HSBC, Amazon and Lloyds Bank, which have been at pains to showcase their ESG credentials ahead of the summit.
But Farage bemoaned Johnson’s sudden conversion to the green agenda and said the Prime Minister seemed happy to let UK consumers pay high prices because he believed that, unless he did, “the world’s all going to come to an end”. Farage said Johnson was the leader of a country “that only produces one per cent of global CO2”.
Deane, who emphasised he was speaking in a personal capacity, appeared to argue that the UK’s efforts to curb climate change were pointless.
He said: “Even if we closed down UK PLC, the increase from what we see from our friends in China would more than swallow it up.”
Deane pointed to China adding capacity to its energy supplies, via new power stations, this year that were equivalent to the “entirety” of European output.
‘World’s biggest polluter’
He added: “What we do in this country – the hair-shirt attitude of ‘take your boiler out’, ‘get a new car’, the idea that we should be beating up people for not being quite green enough when the world’s biggest polluters are exempt from the Paris accords – for me, that’s for the birds.”
‘Scrap the BBC’
Later in the programme, while discussing taxation, Deane defended additional spending on the NHS and said it was an example of the Government making a clear case for why the money was needed.
He added there was no other example of this in government “apart from the bloody BBC…the only ring-fenced tax that we have”.
Asked whether the BBC licence fee should be scrapped, Deane replied: “We shouldn’t just scrap the licence fee, we should scrap the BBC. [It] is no longer fit for purpose.”
Farage said the departure of radicals such as Dominic Cummings from No. 10 meant this was unlikely and asked if Johnson would ever do it.
Deane said he had attended media events with former culture secretary John Whittingdale, who was replaced by Nadine Dorres in the recent Cabinet reshuffle, and that the minister had joked that Deane gave him “something to be to the left of”.
Deane, who has previously appeared on late-night BBC News panels to discuss the following day’s newspapers, added: “[Whittingdale] would say ‘I want to radically reform the BBC’ and I would say it’s time to get rid of the BBC.”
He told Farage he was worried that the ‘dynamism’ in the government department might have been lost with Whittingdale’s departure.
But Deane assured the presenter: “I do think that this is a government that is more sceptical about what happens with the BBC than any government in my lifetime. I wouldn’t have renewed their Charter last time, but we are where we are and I think this is a government that will hold their feet to the fire more strongly than anyone else.”
FTI was contacted by PRWeek but had not responded by the time of publication.
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