Diesel car suits me better than electric, says PM’s climate spokesperson

Allegra Stratton cites time taken to recharge on long journeys, despite average electric vehicle now having range of over 200 miles

Boris Johnson’s climate spokesperson has criticised the infrastructure that she says is putting people like her off switching to an electric car.

Allegra Stratton, the prime minister’s former press secretary, revealed she drove a “third-hand” diesel Volkswagen Golf.

The reason for this, Stratton explained in an interview with Times Radio, was that she needed to visit elderly relatives “200, 250 miles away”, and that having to stop the vehicle to charge it would slow the journey down, particularly with two young children who might otherwise remain asleep for the duration of the ride.

“I don’t fancy it just yet,” said Stratton, who lives in north London, because of the length of time it took to make trips to visit her father in south Scotland, her mother in Gloucestershire, her grandmother in north Wales, and her in-laws in the Lake District.

“They’re all journeys that I think would be at least one quite long stop to charge,” she said, adding that an electric car would become a more viable option for her if “the stop times for recharging improve so much that it’s half an hour”.

However, the AA pointed out that the average electric vehicle has a range of more than 200 miles without the need for recharging. The president of the association, Edmund King, told the Times: “Even on a rare journey of over 200 miles, the driver should stop to take a break anyway for road safety reasons, so why not combine it with a rapid charge that takes just 20 minutes to go from a quarter charge to over 80%?”

King pointed out that for people living in London, electric vehicles are not subject to the congestion charge or car tax, and added: “Now is the right time to go electric.”

It is not the first outspoken comment by Stratton to raise eyebrows in Westminster. Over the weekend, she said the UK’s goal of tackling the climate crisis by reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 was “too far away”.

In the interview, Stratton also said people had the right to take flights on holiday, despite the damage that aviation emissions do to the environment.

“This government isn’t in the business of dictating what your lifestyle choices should be,” she said. “It’s up to you to decide where you want to go on holiday. And it’s up to you to decide how you want to go on holiday.”


Aubrey Allegretti Political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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