It’s safe to say that the political world’s attention on Monday wasn’t focused on the launch of the government’s strategy to phase out combustion engine vehicles. This was despite the presence at the event of two cabinet ministers, business and transport secretaries Greg Clark and Chris Grayling.

At least they turned up though, unlike Boris Johnson, who snubbed a conference of Balkans foreign ministers who had come to London, while mulling over whether he wanted to remain foreign secretary.

Like the railways, which have been Grayling’s biggest recent headache at the Department for Transport, the Road to Zero paper has been heavily delayed.
The main bone of contention has been resistance within government to the idea of including hybrid cars and vans in the 2040 ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles.

BEIS was concerned that excluding hybrids would be bad news for a UK car industry already deeply concerned about the impact of Brexit.
The hybrids decision, while disappointing for environmentalists, marks a fresh cabinet victory for Clark to add to his success in emerging on the winning side in the much more profound row over the nature of the UK’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU.

A few months ago, Clark narrowly escaped being sacked from the cabinet in Theresa May’s January reshuffle. Things can change rapidly given the current unstable nature of politics, but this week it looks like the quiet man of BEIS is back with a roar.