Rishi Sunak faces another by-election challenge as former energy minister Chris Skidmore is poised to resign as an MP, after quitting the Tories over legislation to boost North Sea oil and gas drilling.
A former energy minister has said he will quit as a Conservative MP over new legislation “that promotes the production of new oil and gas”.
Chris Skidmore has said he will resign when parliament returns next week over the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill.
The senior Tory had already announced his intention to stand down at the next general election, but bringing this forward will trigger a by-election in his Kingswood constituency in Gloucestershire.
That seat is being abolished at the election in constituency boundary changes, meaning whoever takes his place could be an MP only for a matter of months, with Rishi Sunak expected to go to the polls in the second half of this year.
Announcing his decision on social media, Mr Skidmore said: “The bill would in effect allow more frequent new oil and gas licences and the increased production of new fossil fuels in the North Sea.
“I can no longer stand by. The climate crisis that we face is too important to politicise or to ignore.”
The Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill will allow oil and gas companies to bid for new licences to drill for fossil fuels every year.
The government argues it is important for domestic energy production but it has been widely criticised by climate groups.