THE UK Government has started negotiations with a London venue over moving the COP26 conference from Glasgow.

According to the Financial Times, claims over spiralling costs and chaos surrounding preparations have forced officials to look to the ExCel London as a “fallback option”.

Government officials confirmed that the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy had held talks.

“It’s normal for an event of this magnitude to have contingency measures,” said one. “We are pretty committed to Scotland.”

The Scottish Government and the now-former chair of the event have been critical of the UK Government’s handling of COP26 preparations.

READ MORE: Would moving COP26 to England be a step too far for Johnson?

Claire O’Neill hit out at Boris Johnson and the UK Government, accusing them of showing a lack of leadership on climate change and that preparations for the event were “miles off track”.

So far, no successor had been chosen, with several key figures said to have turned the role down.

The former energy minister also criticised the lack of an “absolute firm location”.

O'Neill was also critical of the Scottish Government, though also said she suggested Nicola Sturgeon should be given a key role – a suggestion rebuffed by the PM.

READ MORE: Greens: 'UK Government more interested in Union flags than COP26'

Yesterday, at the Countdown to COP26 event, the First Minister said the Scottish Government would work "closely and constructively" on the running of the event.

At the same event, Michael Gove refused to be drawn on who would replace O'Neill as chair.

READ MORE: Michael Gove silent on who will replace COP26 Glasgow chair

A Cabinet reshuffle is due this week, with Tory Scottish Secretary Alister Jack tipped to be reshuffled.