‘I’m not impressed’: Glasgow unmoved by Boris Johnson’s Cop26 return

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‘I’m not impressed’: Glasgow unmoved by Boris Johnson’s Cop26 return

Locals frustrated at distraction of Tory sleaze scandals when focus should be on climate talks

Boris Johnson arriving at Glasgow Central station on Wednesday

When Boris Johnson stepped off the train as he returned to Glasgow for the final days of Cop26, he was met with boos at the city’s central station.

Many people were unhappy at his decision to return to the conference on Wednesday, and felt he was doing so more to escape the sleaze scandals enveloping his party in Westminster rather than out of any strong desire to help save the planet.

“I don’t think Boris really cares [about Cop26]. I’m not sure what he cares about really, other than his own ego,” said Simon Worth, 48, a performance and wellbeing coach who lives in Glasgow. “He’s not very good at facing up to any responsibilities I think. But he’s very good at smoke and mirrors and deflecting attention.”

Simon Worth

Worth said he felt there was some public anger at the sleaze allegations dominating parliament this week, but doubted it would be enough to create significant change. “I think the problem is, most of us don’t pay enough attention. We don’t kick up a fuss, so they just carry on doing it,” he said.

Worth said that if Johnson’s visit to Cop26 was sincere then it would be a boost to the conference, but he urged him to “stop deflecting attention and just address it head on”.

Just outside the entrance to the SEC, where the talks are taking place, Sue Hillman, 76, a retired producer, was also frustrated to hear Johnson had returned.

“He likes to be in the limelight,” she said. “He’ll do anything to divert the attention from what’s really happening in this country. There is no getting away from it, the Tory party has become so embedded in sleaze and corruption. I don’t see how anybody in the UK can’t see what’s happening.”

She was also frustrated that the media used his press conference on Wednesday to ask questions about sleaze when the focus should have been on the climate. “I begin to despair, really, about how the world is operating,” she said.

Sue Hillman

A keen supporter of Cop26, Hillman was waiting outside the venue to meet the Kenyan delegate who has been staying with her for the duration of the conference, after many people struggled to find affordable accommodation in the city.

“We get lots of nice words occasionally coming out of Boris Johnson’s mouth, but he doesn’t actually do what he’s asking everybody else to do, does he?” she said “He flies on his private jet to go for dinner in the Garrick, so I’m not impressed.”

There were some who had more faith in the prime minister. “I don’t think he’s that committed to Cop, but I think he has to be here otherwise it will go terrible for him,” said Euan Warnock, 19, a college student. “And I thought he was genuinely here for that reason, I don’t think he’s running away.”

Warnock said he wasn’t surprised Johnson got a bit of a frosty reception when he arrived in Glasgow, though. “Most people see him not as a politician but as a businessman who is looking after himself,” he said.

Like many on the streets of Glasgow, Warnock said he hadn’t heard much about progress inside Cop, despite it being on his doorstep. “To be honest, I’ve not heard of anything big that they’ve done. If they had done I feel like we all would have heard about it. Everything is still targets for the 2030s or 2050s, it’s still so far off.”

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