Shropshire Star

MP Owen Paterson to launch US-style 'Tea Party'

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson will tonight launch a think tank that has been dubbed the British version of the American Tea Party.


The UK 2020 group, which is being chaired by Mr Paterson, describes itself as a "new centre-right think tank generating optimistic, common-sense policies".

Some political pundits have likened it to the Tea Party, which has been highly influential within the Republican Party in the USA and which pushes a right wing agenda.

Mr Owen, sacked as environment secretary in the Cabinet reshuffle, says he wants to gather together like-minded Tories open to "think the unthinkable" and come up with a vision for a "prosperous, sovereign and socially just United Kingdom".

Mr Paterson said the new venture will seek to articulate the views of Conservatives "beyond Westminster".

He will make a major speech tonight at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in London, in which he is expected to call on Britain to leave the European Union and free itself from some climate change regulations and targets. He has already raised a six-figure sum for the project and is starting to recruit staff.

His intervention comes as the UN warns that global warming is the Earth's biggest challenge and that more should be done to stem pollution.

And today Mr Paterson's replacement as environment secretary, Elizabeth Truss, responded to the launch of UK 2020 by calling for a more sensible debate on the issue.

She says it needs to move beyond a "polarised slanging match between hippies and gas-guzzlers".

In her first major speech since taking the job, she will say economic growth and a healthy natural environment depend on each other, with the £100 billion food industry needing the countryside "to be in top condition" if it is to be at its most productive.

Ms Truss will insist the Government is committed to its pledge to be the "greenest ever", adding: "To achieve that, the debate has to get beyond experts and special interest groups, beyond targets and summits, beyond the polarised slanging match we so often hear: you're an alarmist or a denier, a hippy or a gas-guzzler.

"The reality is different. We are making environmental and economic progress. They are not just compatible - they depend on each other."

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