Jacob Rees-Mogg promises vote on fracking 'local consent' in bid to calm Tory rebels

Jacob Rees-Mogg speaking at a Tory fringe event.
Jacob Rees Mogg Credit: PA

Jacob Rees Mogg is writing to MPs to try to calm a potential rebellion on fracking - ahead of Labour's opposition day motion on the issue.

Sources tell me he is promising to placate Tory MPs opposed to more fracking in their constituencies by promising a consultation on what "local consent" means. The mechanism decided upon will then be voted on by MPs in the House of Commons.

The pledge comes after serious opposition among MPs to the government's hopes to massively expand fracking - the extraction of shale gas. One messaged me when the government U-turned on 45p to say: "No way fracking happening either now if they thought 45p rate was unpopular."

Labour placed what is known as an opposition day motion down on Wednesday - calling for fracking to be banned. The government then told its MPs - who would normally abstain on a motion like this - that it considered the vote a confidence matter and would be expecting Tory MPs to vote against it.

They said it would carry a three line whip meaning that those who abstain would effectively be expelled from the party.

Labour immediately released a list of Tories who have opposed fracking including key cabinet ministers like the chancellor Jeremy Hunt and defence secretary Ben Wallace.

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Richard Graham MP who has major concerns told me: "No government MP should support effectively an opposition vote of no confidence.

"But the government's current approach to fracking needs to get back to a moratorium or tightly defined local consent and confirmed local control of our planning. So getting the policy right is key."

He and others will welcome the move by Mr Rees-Mogg which is likely to effectively kick the issue into the long grass - and could mean no extra fracking because local consent is so difficult.

The government will put forward the ideas in an amendment to the Labour motion - giving Tories something to vote for.