Breaking: MP Chris Skidmore quits as MP over new oil and gas licences

Mission Zero review author and former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore will resign as an MP next week over new legislation “that promotes the production of new oil and gas”, triggering a by-election to replace him.

Mr Skidmore said he was resigning as a Tory MP ahead of a vote on a bill on Monday to guarantee annual oil and gas licensing rounds.

In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), he said: “The Net Zero Review I published a year ago next week. Mission Zero, set out how net zero can be the economic opportunity of this decade, if not our generation, bringing with it hundreds of thousands of new jobs, new growth, new regeneration and inward investment worth hundreds of billions of pounds.

“To achieve this however requires long term commitment to the energy transition, and a clear and consistent message to business and industry that the UK Is committed to climate action as a global leader, as it has been for the past. The bill that will be debated next week achieves nothing apart from to send a global signal that the UK is rowing ever further back from its climate commitments. We cannot expect other countries to phase out their fossil fuels when at the same time we continue to issue new licences or to open new oil fields. It is a tragedy that the UK has been allowed to lose its climate leadership at a time when our businesses, industries, universities and civil society organisations are providing first class leadership and expertise to so many across the world, inspiring change for the better.

“I cannot vote for the bill next week. The future will judge harshly those that do. At a time when we should be committing to more climate action, we simply do not have any more time to waste promoting the future production of fossil fuels that is the ultimate cause of the environmental crisis that we are facing.”

Mr Skidmore spoke at the Transport + Energy Forum in November and hailed the current progress of net-zero both in the UK and globally, before highlighting the importance of continued acceleration in the decarbonisation of transport and energy to hit 2030 and 2050 targets.

While praising local authorities and private companies for their work, he said that after his Mission Zero report “time and time again, Westminster was behind the curve” while “people in the real world were getting on with the job”.

In his statement, Mr Skidmore said the expansion of new oil and gas licences or opening of new oil fields will only create stranded assets of the future, harming local and regional communities that should instead be supported to transition their skills and expertise to renewable and clean energy.

He has been a Member of Parliament for Kingswood since 2010 and paid tribute to his constituents: “I am deeply grateful for the privilege I have had to serve in government across several departments, including as Energy Minister attending Cabinet, and to have been appointed as the independent Chair of the Net Zero Review. It is nearly fourteen years since I was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Kingswood, and I am especially grateful to my constituents for placing their repeated trust and faith in me.

“First and foremost mv duty has been to serve them, as their elected representative. It is with that duty to them in mind as their representative that my personal decision today means, as I have long argued, that they deserve the right to elect a new Member of Parliament. I theretore will be standing down from Parliament as soon as possible. It has been a remarkable and wonderful opportunily to serve as a Member of Parliament for nearly fourteen years, but I now intend to focus all my energy and attention on delivering net zero and the energy transition.”

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