Political instability continues to affect the United Kingdom (UK) Government with the Minister for the Overseas Territories (OTs) Lord Zac Goldsmith the latest casualty after resigning on Friday.
In a lengthy resignation letter, Goldsmith attacked UK Prime Minister (PM) Rishi Sunak’s record, accusing him of “apathy” on climate change issues.
Goldsmith said Sunak’s stance on climate change issues proved challenging for his role as environment minister, making it “untenable”.
In his resignation letter, Goldsmith reflected on the work done by the UK Government over the last few years and the many achievements attained since taking up his role as environment minister.
He said since Sunak took office in 2022, he has fallen short on most of his promises towards the environment and climate, which has resulted in the UK taking a major step back from the fight against climate change.
“Before you took office, you assured Party members, via me, that you would continue implementing the Action Plan, including the Kept Animals Bill and measures like ending the live export of animals for slaughter, banning keeping primates as pets, preventing the import of shark fins and hunting trophies from vulnerable species,” Goldsmith stated.
He added, “But I have been horrified as, bit by bit, we have abandoned these commitments – domestically and on the world stage. The Kept Animals Bill has been ditched, despite your promises. Our efforts on a wide range of domestic environmental issues have simply ground to a standstill.”
Goldsmith said he was even more concerned that the UK had visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn its leadership on climate and nature.
“Only last week you seemingly chose to attend the party of a media baron rather than attend a critically important environment summit in Paris that ordinarily the UK would have co-led,” he stated.
“Worse still, we have effectively abandoned one of the most widely reported and solemn promises we have made on this issue; our pledge to spend £11.6b of our Aid on climate and environment,” Goldsmith added.
UK PM claims resignation was linked to a requested apology
Contrary to Goldsmith’s reasoning for his resignation, PM Sunak claimed that the OTs minister decided to step down after a request was made for him to issue an apology following a reprimand for interfering with the Partygate inquiry.
“I accept your resignation. You were asked to apologise for your comments about the Privileges Committee as we felt they were incompatible with your position as a minister of the crown. You have decided to take a different course,” PM Sunak stated in response to Goldsmith on his resignation.
Lord Goldsmith’s resignation comes just a day after receiving heavy criticism from other United Kingdom Members of Parliament (MPs) for his continuous support of former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The privileges committee had blasted “vociferous attacks” by allies of Boris Johnson against its investigation into the former prime minister, accusing them of an “unprecedented and coordinated” campaign to impede its work.
What does this mean for the OTs and the BVI?
The resignation of Lord Goldsmith means that the UK Government will now be tasked with finding a suitable replacement to represent the Overseas Territories and by extension, the BVI.
It comes at a critical time in the history of the BVI as the territory is still faced with implementing the reforms from the Commission of Inquiry Report, in addition to having the Order in Council held in reserve – a document that could result in the suspension of the BVI’s Constitution at any moment.
A new OTs minister would make the fourth that the territory has had in less than a year. Goldsmith’s predecessors included Jesse Norman and Amanda Milling.