Conservative MP Chris Skidmore quits over oil and gas expansion plans

Nearly a year ago, Skidmore published his Independent Review of the Net-Zero Strategy containing 129 policy recommendations for the Government.

As the former Energy Minister during the UK Government’s enactment of the net-zero commitment by 2050, Skidmore has been a consistent advocate, urging the Government to adhere to its net-zero goals.

However, today, (5 January), the Tory party’s net-zero hero announced his resignation via platform X (formerly Twitter).

Skidmore had initially planned to step down at the upcoming general election, but his abrupt resignation has triggered the need for yet another by-election in his constituency of Kingswood, located in Gloucestershire.

After serving approximately 14 years as a Member of Parliament, he cited his withdrawal of support for the party due to its stance on fossil fuels as the reason for his departure.

Skidmore expressed serious concern over the new gas and licensing bill, calling it ‘a global signal that the UK is rowing even further back from its climate commitments.’

He said: “I can no longer condone nor continue to support a government that is committed to a course of action that I know is wrong and will cause future harm.

“I am therefore resigning my party whip and instead intend to be free from any party-political allegiance.”

In November last year, the Government unveiled the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill to the Parliament. The bill is scheduled to be introduced to the House of Commons for a vote next week.

While the bill has already received a lot of criticism from the green groups, the Government continues to push it forward for the reasons of national energy security and reducing costs.

However, Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho’s indicated in a BBC interview that such developments might not lead to the desired outcomes.

Skidmore added: “I cannot vote for the bill next week. The future will judge harshly those that do.”

The Labour party has declared its commitment to refraining from issuing new licenses for oil and gas expansion. Instead, the party is focusing on a just transition away from fossil fuel dependence by reskilling workers from the fossil fuel sector for employment in low-carbon industries.

In an exclusive interview at COP28 last year, Skidmore told edie that the UK Government’s decision to expand fossil fuel licensing has caused the UK to lose its reputation as global leader.

Skidmore emphasised the same in his resignation statement: “It is a tragedy that the UK has been allowed to lose its climate leadership.”

This builds on the Government’s roll backs on its net-zero commitments last year, which too drew severe criticism from the green economy.

Skidmore’s decision has garnered widespread support from industry leaders and the opposition alike, applauding his resolute commitment to the net-zero movement.

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