James Kirkup James Kirkup

Boris should be worried about Steve Baker, not Dominic Cummings

Steve Baker (photo: Getty)

While Westminster fixates on Dominic Cummings, what could well be a bigger political challenge for Boris Johnson is being somewhat overlooked. That challenge is called Steve Baker.

Baker has now launched his long-whispered campaign over net zero and the policies it entails. He’s in the Sun today talking about issues including gas boilers and the need to replace them with something that doesn’t burn gas.

Reaching net zero carbon emissions means a boiler switchover has to happen, and soon. Homes account for about 14 per cent of the UK’s carbon output, and weaning the country off gas boilers is possibly the trickiest bit of making net zero (a legal requirement, remember) actually happen.

Baker, a big figure in Brexit politics, is unhappy about what appears to have been a bungled briefing from the business department about the possibility of imposing fines on people who don’t replace their gas boilers with low-carbon heat-pumps.

If you don’t know about heat pumps, now would be a good time to start learning about them, because they’re going to become very important in British politics. Because the government’s policy (and the law) means we’re going to need to make and install an awful lot of them in the next decade or so.

Baker has a fair track record of disrupting official plans

Baker says he’s worried about the costs of doing that, and worried that those costs will fall unfairly on voters, especially poorer ones. He talks about a heat pump costing ‘more than £10,000’ to install.

His concerns are largely endorsed by the Sun in a leader. Despite its ‘Go Green campaign’, the paper says it’s not in favour of stuff that will cost its readers money: it wants the benefits of decarbonisation, with none of the associated costs.

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