IN 1984, two days of David Jenkins had been consecrated as Bishop of Durham in York Minster, the minster caught fire. Some people interpreted it as a sign of God’s displeasure at the new bishop’s questioning the literal truth of the virgin birth and Jesus walking on water.

Last night, there were distressing scenes as houses in London caught fire as “blowtorch Britain” baked in record-breaking temperatures just days after several candidates to be our next Prime Minister questioned whether Britain should be committed to its target of becoming net zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2050.

One candidate, Kemi Badenoch who was eliminated yesterday, called it “unilateral economic suicide” while two others, Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt, were prepared to talk about removing the green levy from fuel bills as a quick, populist way of easing the cost of living crisis.

This chimed with a YouGov poll that found net zero was at the bottom of Conservative Party members’ priorities.

Say what you like about Boris Johnson but he did talk up Britain’s commitment to net zero. Unlike the contenders for his job who see it as a cost, he saw it also as an opportunity – and Teesside’s rebirth as the home of alternative energy shows it would actually be economic suicide for us to turn our backs on this sector.

Under pressure, the candidates have flip-flopped to support of the target, but their initial reactions provided a valuable insight into their thinking.

It is very unlikely that yesterday’s fires are an expression of God’s dismay, but they are a crucial reminder of the sort of planet we are going to bequeath to our children unless our next Prime Minister makes some serious calls.