David Cameron is to hand at least £650 million to help undeveloped countries cope with climate change on the day the Conservatives will fight a crucial by-election battle with Ukip.
The prime minister had hoped to avoid attention being drawn to the UK’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund until after the Rochester & Strood by-election, according to government insiders.
Barack Obama’s decision to announce that the US was contributing almost £2 billion at the G20 summit in Brisbane yesterday turned the spotlight on the UK before the deadline on Thursday for pledges to the international fund.
The timing is deeply awkward for Mr Cameron, highlighting controversial commitments to both foreign aid and green measures, with Ukip set for another coup in winning its second parliamentary seat. […]
Ministers have told green groups privately that Britain’s contribution will be similar to the sum reported yesterday, the same as the sums already pledged by Germany and France. It will come from the Overseas Development Aid budget.
Agreement on the final figure was held up by a Whitehall battle between Justine Greening, the Tory Development Secretary and Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, according to NGO sources. Britain will attach a number of conditions to the handout to limit the controversy after the announcement at a Berlin conference on Thursday, they say.
Nevertheless, Nigel Farage is bound to seize on the large donation as his party seeks to ensure that Mark Reckless, who quit the Commons as a Tory on the opening day of the Conservative party conference, is returned as a Ukip MP on Thursday. Senior Conservatives are seeking to lower expectations, suggesting the margin — not the fact — of defeat will determine how destabilising the by-election will prove.