Theresa May Turns to Politicians that Voted Against the Climate Change Act in Bid to Bolster Brexit

Read time: 3 mins
Peter Lilley

In a bid to stop the Tory government repeatedly being defeated over Brexit laws, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to nominate nine new peers from her party. Among them are two familiar faces: Peter Lilley and Andrew Tyrie, who were two of only five MPs to oppose the UK’s landmark Climate Change Act.

May’s government has suffered 15 defeats in the House of Lords over Brexit, with between 30 and 100 Lords voting against the flagship EU Withdrawal Bill. She is appointing more Tory peers to try and increase her chances of pushing the law through the UK’s second chamber.

Former Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley is the most strident Brexiteer on a list of nine new potential appointments, reported by the BBC. He has also been one of the loudest critics of government action on tackling climate change.

Alongside another name on the list, former Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie, Lilley was part of a group of only five MPs to vote against the UK’s landmark Climate Change Act in 2008.

The law legally commits the government to cutting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Recently, MPs have argued that the law should be strengthened to commit the UK to becoming a ‘net-zero’ carbon economy.

Lilley was never a fan of the Act, and said his decision to vote against it was in part because it was snowing in October which he argued showed winters weren’t warming. That may explain how he came to sit on the Board of Trustees of the UK’s premier climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

In December 2016, he authored a report for the GWPF titled, “The Cost of the Climate Change Act”. In it he claims that climate policy will cost the UK £319 billion. That figure is many times higher than official estimates.

Lilley is a former member of the Government's Environmental Audit Committee and the UK Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee, which examines the policies of the government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Since 2006, Lilley has also been a non-executive board member of Tethys Petroleum, a Cayman Islands-based oil and gas company with drilling operations in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This was declared on the register of MPs’ financial interests. In 2012 for example, he earned £47,000. And according to the Guardian he received share options worth at least $400,000.

A DeSmog investigation also revealed in 2012 that Lilley was being paid $300 an hour to advise an Indian company building a coal fired power station.

Lilley’s appointment to the House of Lords looked to have been scuppered when he was accused by Channel 4 of agreeing to take payment to offer his expertise on Brexit to a Chinese consortium. Lilley denied the allegations and referred the programme makers to Ofcom.


Find out more about Peter Lilley’s (mis)deeds in his full profile in DeSmog UK’s Disinformation Database


Tyrie is a less high-profile name.

Like Lilley, he stood down before the 2017 general election. In April 2018, he was made the Chair of the Competition and Markets Authority, a government market watchdog.

Tyrie is closely associated with the creation of the GWPF, and is also close to a financial backer of notoriously odd climate science denier Christopher Monckton.

On climate change, Tyrie previously said, “mankind might be contributing to global warming but there is little evidence to support the view that the correct response at this time should be [to] rapidly decarbonize the economies of the world.”

Tyrie is the former chairman of the Commons Treasury select committee. Since 2008, he voted against measures to tackle climate change 18 times, and was absent eight times, according to TheyWorkForYou. He voted in favour of climate policy action four times.

Image: PolicyExchange/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Get Weekly News Updates