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No 10 trying to cut Nicola Sturgeon out of COP26 summit, leaked messages say

The Scottish First Minister responded by saying anyone who allows politics to get in the way of tackling climate change would be abdicating responsibility.

Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon
Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon
Image: PA Images

NUMBER 10 IS seeking to cut Nicola Sturgeon out of the COP26 summit to prevent her using it as “an advert for an independence campaign”, according to leaked messages.

Advisers at No 10 and the Cabinet Office have been seeking to side-line the role of Scotland’s First Minister in the global gathering, the UK’s Independent newspaper has reported.

According to meeting notes and WhatsApp messages seen by the newspaper, strategists have been trying to work out how to prevent the summit from becoming an “advert” for Scottish independence.

Responding to the reports, Sturgeon said anyone who allows politics to get in the way of tackling climate change would be abdicating responsibility.

She wrote on Twitter: “All that matters is that COP26 delivers an outcome to meet the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“We must work together and maximise contributions towards that. Anyone – me or PM – who allowed politics to get in way would be abdicating that responsibility.”

COP26 is due to take place in Glasgow for two weeks from 31 October, and will see global leaders descend on the city.

But the leaked messages suggest advisers are planning to keep Prime Minister Boris Johnson from sharing a platform with Sturgeon in the run-up to and during the event.

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Johnson should “neutralise” the First Minster by including other devolved leaders where possible, they said.

One adviser’s message referring to Sturgeon read: “This can be labelled as a role for her [as one of the UK’s leaders] but avoids her taking centre stage.”

Another said: “We can’t let this be used as an advert for an independence campaign.”

The notes also document efforts to ensure that the union flag is displayed as much as possible at the summit.

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