Conservative MP Chris Skidmore formally resigns triggering by-election in Kingswood

Chris Skidmore was the MP for Kingswood, South Gloucestershire. Credit: UK Parliament/PA imahes

Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore has formally submitted his resignation in protest to the Government’s plans to boost oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.

His decision follows his resignation of the Conservative whip on Friday 5 January and means PM Rishi Sunak will face yet another by-election.

Mr Skidmore said: “Where the UK Government once led in promoting climate action at Cop26, it now finds itself opposing the International Energy Agency, the UNCCC, the Committee on Climate Change, in promoting the opening of new additional oilfields and licences for extraction that will not take place at best until decades from now.

“The choice before us is whether to invest in the industries of the future, or to be tied to the industries of the past.

"No-one has ever denied that we will not need the oil and gas we are using today, but to seek to open up future new sources of fossil fuels, that will be sold on international markets and owned by foreign companies, will do nothing for our energy security.”

His resignation comes ahead of a debate on the Government’s Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, meaning he will not vote on the proposed legislation.

The Bill would mandate that licences for oil and gas projects in the North Sea are awarded annually, and was seen as a challenge to Labour, which said it would ban new exploration licences to focus on renewables.

Boundary changes mean Mr Skidmore’s Kingswood seat, near Bristol, is due to be abolished at the next election and the former universities minister had already announced his intention not to stand for another seat.

His early resignation will cause another headache for the Prime Minister, who already faces at least one other by-election in the coming months after the successful recall petition in Peter Bone’s Wellingborough constituency.