The Cuadrilla fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, Lancashire (PA)
19 October 2022

Tory MP tells ministers to ‘hang their heads in shame’ over fracking row

19 October 2022

A Conservative MP said ministers should “hang their heads in shame” and accused them of making her party colleagues choose between voting against the manifesto or losing the whip.

Tory MPs have been told a Labour vote in the Commons seeking to ban fracking is being treated as a “confidence motion” in the Government.

Conservative deputy chief whip Craig Whittaker warned his MPs that supporting it risks letting the opposition take control of the Commons timetable.

A number of Tory MPs voiced opposition to fracking in the Commons but also suggested they will still support the Government.

My final observation tonight is for our own front bench, for they have enabled the opposition to force colleagues to choose between voting against our manifesto and voting to lose the whip. They should take a look at the faces of colleagues behind them, colleagues who have fracking sites in their constituencies, and they should hang their heads in shame

Ruth Edwards, the Tory MP for Rushcliffe, said she is against fracking but added: “My final observation tonight is for our own front bench, for they have enabled the opposition to force colleagues to choose between voting against our manifesto and voting to lose the whip.

“They should take a look at the faces of colleagues behind them, colleagues who have fracking sites in their constituencies, and they should hang their heads in shame.

“A Conservative government will always have my confidence, but its leadership today has severely tested my trust and the trust of many colleagues and I would advise them not to do so again.”

Earlier in her speech, Ms Edwards told the Commons: “Today’s debate is less about fracking and more about the Labour Party’s next social media campaign.

“I don’t support fracking but I am even less keen on the idea of letting the Labour Party play at being in government for the day, because I remember what happened when they were there last time.”

She described fracking as “unsuitable in a country like the UK, where we have a high population density” and warned: “After all the division and local anguish it causes, even the industry itself estimates it will produce very little gas.”

Only an idiot would think that our planet could sustain new forms and new exploitations of fossil fuels into our environment

Former minister Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, praised Tory colleague Ruth Edwards for her speech, adding: “I endorse every word she has said about how the Government has handled this matter and I share her sense of despair, frustration and infuriation by it.

“But, as I find myself saying so frequently at the moment, we are where we are and we have to get on with it.”

“Only an idiot would think that our planet could sustain new forms and new exploitations of fossil fuels into our environment,” Conservative Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset, told MPs.

He said there “should be a free vote”, adding: “I would love to vote against fracking tonight but… I want to keep my voice and my vote to help shape the future of the party I’ve been a member of since 1985 and I’m not prepared to throw that away on an issue which is actually not, as I say, going to happen.

“We have, dare I say it, quite enough chaos at the moment without adding to it.”

The vast majority of my constituents do not support fracking returning to the Fylde coast

Mark Menzies, Tory MP for Fylde in Lancashire, where fracking could take place, said he would “rather the moratorium remain in place” but said Labour “taking control of the order paper is not something I can support”.

Alexander Stafford, Tory MP for Rother Valley, said he opposes fracking in his constituency and will be “leading the charge on this issue”.

But he said the motion is a “cynical attempt by Labour to play party political games” and to “weaponise this issue rather than working together on a cross-party basis to put a ban on fracking”.

A similar position came from Conservative MP Scott Benton, for Blackpool South, who criticised Labour’s bid to take control of the parliamentary timetable but said on fracking: “The vast majority of my constituents do not support fracking returning to the Fylde coast.”

Chris Skidmore, the Prime Minister’s net-zero tsar, said on Twitter he will not vote with the Government, as did Guildford MP Angela Richardson and former minister Tracey Crouch.

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