RISHI Sunak has come under fire for “undermining the UK’s reputation” as a leader in the fight against climate change.

Leader of the LibDems in the House of Lords, Lord Newby, accused the Prime Minister of only attending COP27 “under duress” and claimed the world does not think “his heart is in it”.

Sunak originally said he was too focused on the domestic economy to attend but, after receiving criticism, later U-turned, saying: “There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change.”

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Lord Newby noted in the upper chamber that the Prime Minister also acknowledged that COP27 provided an opportunity for him to meet world leaders, many of them for the first time, and to discuss non-climate change-related issues such as refugees crossing the English Channel and the case of Alaa Abd El-Fattah in prison in Egypt.

He said: “Had [Sunak] not been forced by external pressures to reverse his initial intention to ignore the conference altogether, these opportunities would have all been missed.

“I hope the Prime Minister has learned the lesson that, to promote British interests internationally, he has to take every opportunity to meet his counterparts beyond sporadic bilateral visits.

“Sadly, however, the fact that the Prime Minister only went to COP27 under duress has undermined the UK’s reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change.

“The world simply doesn’t think that the Prime Minister’s heart is in it.”

The Leader of the House of Lords, Lord True, appeared to brush aside the comments, saying that Lord Newby thought a “Prime Minister in office for five minutes must be criticised because he went, at the first opportunity, to COP27”.

He added that Britain “is seen as a leader”, highlighting Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park’s initiative in nature, including in the Congo Basin, as well as the Government’s work in clean power with South Africa and Indonesia.