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The UK prime minister’s climate spokesperson has range anxiety, so she drives a diesel VW

Allegra Stratton, British prime minister Boris Johnson’s climate spokesperson, says she won’t switch to an electric car yet because she has range anxiety. So she drives a “third-hand” diesel Volkswagen Golf instead.

The UK climate spokesperson’s range anxiety…

The Guardian details Stratton’s phobia of electric cars:

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.”

… is unfounded

The Guardian‘s Sam Wollaston recently drove from Land’s End to John O’Groats in an electric car – a Škoda Enyaq – and wrote about it. For those of you unfamiliar, that 603-mile (970 km) journey runs the entire length of Great Britain.

He called the car “brilliant” and charging infrastructure “extensive, not brilliant,” because he had problems with a couple of chargers not working properly. (Think “out of order” gas pumps.) He also owns the fact that he was disorganized, and objectively pointed out the pros and cons of driving electric, yet still successfully completed the trip.

Edmund King, the president of the AA, points out to Wollaston that “with new EVs capable, on average, of 200 miles, ‘that’s going to cover the vast majority of people’s journeys. At the AA, in terms of breakdowns for EVs, only 4% are running out of charge.'”

Electrek‘s take

Wow – a whole 200 miles away, Allegra Stratton. Call King at the AA. Or just ask any EV driver on the street.

Stratton’s willful ignorance of electric cars in her position is mortifying. (I’m a British citizen, and this is not a good look for the country.)

And her insistence of driving an old diesel car is hypocritical and sets a terrible example. The UK is going to host the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow in the autumn, and is supposed to be leading the world in setting net zero targets.

How could any other country take Johnson seriously when his climate spokesperson refuses to give up her old diesel car due to unfounded range anxiety?

One would think that the prime minister’s climate spokesperson might set aside a teeny bit of time to learn about electric cars and range, seeing how the UK has a ban on new gas cars from 2030. She undoubtedly has access to electric vehicle experts in her position; heck, she could probably ask Prince Charles, who has been driving electric cars for a couple years now, including a Tesla Model S. (Although, to be fair, someone probably charges it for him, but he probably knows about charging.)

When I leased my Tesla Model 3 in June, I was struck by how many people immediately responded with a range anxiety comment when I told them we’d gone electric. Clearly, a lot more work needs to be done to dispel this perception, and I try to do my small part.

But for Stratton, ignorance is not an excuse. It’s her responsibility to know about all means available to reduce emissions, from electric cars to offshore wind – and explain it to others. Maybe it’s time to start “fancying it” now, Stratton. It’s your job.

Read more: I just bought my very first Tesla. Here’s what happened

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.