Chris Skidmore formally resigns as MP over Sunak's oil and gas bill triggering fresh by-election headache for PM

8 January 2024, 15:44 | Updated: 8 January 2024, 15:45

Chris Skidmore
Chris Skidmore. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Chris Skidmore has formally resigned as an MP in protest over new legislation which will allow greater fossil fuel extraction in the North Sea.

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The former minister announced his plans to quit as MP on Friday, saying he would resign the Tory whip "as soon as possible".

His resignation means another by-election will be triggered in his Kingswood seat in Gloucestershire.

He said he was stepping down in protest over plans to "prioritise and politicise new oil and gas licences".

"The bill would in effect allow more frequent new oil and gas licences and the increased production of new fossil fuels in the North Sea," Mr Skidmore said in his original announcement.

"I can no longer stand by. The climate crisis that we face is too important to politicise or to ignore."

Former Tory minister Chris Skidmore
Former Tory minister Chris Skidmore. Picture: Getty

The bill would allow the North Sea regulator to invite applications for new oil and gas licenses annually instead of the current five-year average.

While there is not expected to be major pushback on the bill on Monday, it has been unpopular among some MPs and campaign groups, including former cabinet member and COP 26 president Alok Sharma.

Mr Sharma confirmed on Monday he would not be voting on the bill, as he said it reinforces an “unfortunate perception about the UK rowing back from climate action”.

The government has said the bill will reduce energy bills and improve energy security, however Mr Sharma has argued this is not the case.

A spokesperson for Downing Street defended its plans, as they said: “The government believes that it’s common sense to make the most of what we can produce here rather than shipping in from foreign regimes with higher emissions.”

Read More: Suspended Tory MP Peter Bone loses seat in recall petition triggering fresh by-election headache for Sunak

Read More: Sunak faces another by-election after standards watchdog recommends 35-day suspension for Tory MP

The MP for Kingswood added that his decision to resign the whip meant his constituents "deserve the right to elect a new Member of Parliament".

He said: "I therefore will be standing down from Parliament as soon as possible."

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