💰🔥Matt Ridley is a discredited former banker, journalist, and climate change denier. His was one of the most prominent voices promoting Brexit, not least in columns in the Murdoch-owned Times and Sun. Associated with the Vote Leave end of the campaign, he also appeared on platforms with the pro-Brexit Business for Britain group.
Like Owen Paterson and many other leading Leave campaigners, Ridley is a vociferous opponent of action on climate change and a keen advocate of the continued use of fossil fuels. He has frequently tried to cast doubt on the science of global warming. He is on the “Academic Advisory Council” of Nigel Lawson’s climate “sceptic” Global Warming Policy Foundation, a policy adviser for Owen Paterson’s UK2020 thinktank (both based at 55 Tufton Street, also the original HQ of Vote Leave before it moved to larger premises), and has used his seat in the House of Lords to oppose the development of renewable wind energy.
By chance, Ridley also enjoys a substantial income from two open-cast coal mines on his large estate in Northumbria, which are owned by his family trust – together these are estimated to contain coal worth £336 million.
Ridley is a big supporter of fracking. In 2014 he was found to have breached the Lords’ Code of Conduct after he neglected to mention during a debate on the energy bill that he has a personal interest in Weir Group, which makes fracking equipment.
Despite being frequently criticised by climate scientists for his misleading writing on climate change, Ridley casts himself as an expert on science (he has a PhD in the mating habits of pheasants – yes, really). He has claimed that “red tape” is stifling science in the EU, giving as one example the EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides known to be harmful to bees.
In April 2016 he surprised many scientists by informing them in his Times column that “British scientists would be better off out of the EU”. All the evidence suggests that on this – as on much else – British scientists beg to differ with Ridley.
Ridley’s other main claim to fame stems from his chairmanship of Northern Rock, the bank that played an infamous role in the 2007 financial crisis. Members of the Treasury Select Committee that looked into these events criticised him, along with the bank’s CEO, for “damaging the good name of British banking”.