CHRIS Skidmore had already announced he would retire at the general election but his decision to go early took the political world by surprise.
The former Kingswood MP made his announcement on January 5, shortly after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Insisted that his “working assumption” was that the election would not be before the autumn, Mr Skidmore resigned.
Mr Skidmore, who last year headed a Government review into how the UK could reach Net Zero by 2050, said he could no longer support an administration that was introducing legislation to allow “increased production of new fossil fuels in the North Sea”.
He said: “As the former Energy Minister who signed the UK’s Net Zero commitment by 2050 into law, I cannot vote for a bill that clearly promotes the production of new oil and gas.”
Mr Skidmore said that with a global transition away from fossil fuels and the “exponential growth” of renewable power, there was “no case to be made for increasing fossil fuel production at a time when investment should be made elsewhere, in the industries and businesses of the future, and not of the past”.
He warned that “the future will judge harshly” anyone who voted to allow new oil and gas licences.
He said: “I can also 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.
“To fail to act, rather than merely speak out, is to tolerate a status quo that cannot be sustained.”
Mr Skidmore, who won the Kingswood seat from Labour’s Roger Berry in 2010 and increased his party’s majority at subsequent elections, said he was “especially grateful” to his constituents for placing their trust in him for 14 years.
“To my excellent staff, local councillors and association members, to colleagues and friends I apologise if you feel I have let you down and only hope that in time you can all understand why I have taken the decision I have today.
“I will not however apologise for doing what I know to be the right thing, both environmentally and economically, both for our country and the planet.”
Responding to Mr Skidmore’s comments, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he was “wrong” on the issue of oil and gas.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Hunt said: “It is very sad to lose a respected colleague like Chris Skidmore.
“But I do profoundly disagree with the reasons that he gave for resigning.
Mr Hunt said recent attacks on shipping in the Red Sea showed that “it is very important for energy security that we have domestic sources of that kind of energy”.