Green energy industrialist Dale Vince has denied being “an eco-zealot” as he defended his £1.5m donations to Labour.
Vince told Sky News he was not seeking to influence leader Sir Keir Starmer by giving cash to the party and that there was not “some kind of deal going on”.
The Ecotricity owner accused the “right wing press” of “joining the dots” between his decade of donations and Sir Keir’s plans to end new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.
It comes as new powers for police to tackle disruptive protests including so-called ‘slow walking’ come into force, with demonstrators facing up to three years behind bars.
Speaking on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme Vince said: “I am not an eco-zealot. I care passionately about the unsustainability of the world… I want to bring about a green Britain.”
Vince said he wanted to see Labour in power as he agreed with their stance on environmental issues, and added: “I am very clear with them I do not want anything and they are very clear there is nothing on offer.”
Asked whether his donations to controversial eco-protest group Just Stop Oil (JSO) were a problem, he added: “I’ve got no problem with scrutiny. I don’t welcome the implications that come with it that there’s some kind of deal going on.”
And commenting on prime minister Rishi Sunak’s comment that JSO were leading the UK into “energy surrender”, Vince said: “There’s nothing original about that. He has no mandate to drill in the North Sea for oil and gas.
“In fact he has no mandate at all, he should call an election.”
Vince accepted Labour’s delay in funding green policies with £28bn a year as “very sensible” because of the current economic crisis and said investment could boost the British economy.
He added: “For every billion pounds we invest in fossil fuels versus renewable energy, we can get twice as many jobs from renewable energy and twice as much GDP growth… a lot of what we need to do to get to a green economy doesn’t require money at all.”
Vince also defended the protests saying the “few minutes disruption” did not compare to UN figures stating that “four million people had lost their lives” each year due to climate change.