In a clean jam about electric cars…

CARS have become political since we exchanged the valiant old wagon for something newer last September. We didn’t pick a diesel car as I am a high-minded sort of a person. Oh, hang on, we didn’t choose diesel thanks to my wife saying: “You can’t possibly get one of those filthy things.”

Plenty of people do drive diesels, but they won’t be doing so after 2040 – and petrol cars will be banished then, too, according to a government strategy being announced today. And hybrid cars, too, if they have a petrol engine.

The future is all-electric. This sounds like a good thing, even if the announcement is being made by environment secretary Michael Gove, a man who is as trustworthy as the brakes on an old Mini.

The upside to this plan is that we have more than 20 years to see the switch to electric cars; the downside is that air can in effect remain dirty in the interim.

Britain’s plan is in line with that already announced by France, and comes after Volvo said it was switching to electric-only cars – a smart move by the Swedes, even if the electric windows never worked in our old car.

I have yet to drive an electric car, but people say they are fun. The biggest problem lies in what is known as range anxiety – whether the batteries will get you home. A similar worry addresses me if I go out on a long run, and end up shuffling home with depleted batteries.

Most of the newspapers this morning print front-page headlines about the end of petrol and diesel cars, with the Mail – a highly polluting newspaper, which always leaves nasty fumes in its wake – opting for: “War on diesels getting dirty.” The Times has the more straightforward: “Diesel car ban to cut pollution.”

In theory, there aren’t many downsides to the switch to electric, and I’d have one now if they were cheap enough and went far enough before needing to be plugged in.

But it will be a challenge, in terms of electricity supply and generation, especially if everyone wants to charge their cars at the same time; and in building the network of big plugs, or whatever they are. There is also the matter of any pollution emitted in producing the electricity, but at least the potentially deadly fumes move away from our roads.

An irony in all this is that the Government was forced to act in part by EU rules – just as we prepare to reverse over that cliff called Brexit. Damn interfering Europe telling us that we can’t rot patriotic British lungs whenever we want. The dreaded Europe making us clean up our act and behave responsibly – maybe the European Union isn’t such a bad idea after all, Michael. Gove, remember, was the loudest Brexit megaphone when it came to the pre-match shouting of mendacious slogans.

Incidentally, Gove’s old friend Donald Trump is being hymned by the front page of the Daily Express this morning under the headline: “Trump trade joy for Britain.” A smaller headline reads: “President promises big and exciting deal.”

Dear old Aunty Express still doesn’t understand that Trump is a liar and a Lothario who says that to all the gullible old girls.

But an electric future sounds good to me, so long as we buy in plenty of fuses and remember where we’ve put them.

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