Truss hit by fresh revolt as Tory rebels plot with Labour on fracking

Truss scrambles to defend fracking in Lancashire

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Tory rebels are plotting to work with Labour to bring an end to Government plans to restart fracking. Backbench MPs are understood to have held a number of conversations with Sir Keir Starmer’s ranks to discuss wrecking Liz Truss’s energy proposals.

The Prime Minister has said fracking can go ahead where there is backing from local residents to improve the UK’s energy security.

She told MPs in the House of Commons that “fracking will only go ahead in areas where there is local community support”.

The Government announced last month it was lifting a moratorium on fracking as part of Ms Truss’s growth plans.

But Labour is working with Conservative MPs to force a vote on the matter and embarrass the Prime Minister.

A Labour source told The Telegraph the part had formally met with a “handful” of Conservative MPs but that they were confident “many more” would oppose fracking in any Commons vote.

A total of 35 Tory MPs would need to revolt and back Sir Keir in order to defeat the Government.

On Tuesday evening Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg held a meeting with 40 MPs who the Government fear could vote with Labour in a bid to make their case for lifting the moratorium.

Earlier this month the minister accused those who opposed fracking of “hysteria” saying opposition was “sheer Ludditery”.

Under Government plans fracking would only go ahead if 50 percent plus one of local residents backed it.

Votes would be held anonymously in order to avoid people being pressured into taking a side either way.

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Areas that back fracking would be given compensation in order to make the prospect more attractive.

Amid the fears of Tory rebels backing Labour, speaking yesterday morning, Mr Rees-Mogg suggested the Government would do what it could do to avoid a vote.

“The Government doesn’t have to give votes,” he said, claiming there were “any number of mechanisms MPs can use to have a say on things”.

He added: “There are backbench business debates; there are opposition debates; there are amendments.”

Boris Johnson first imposed the moratorium on fracking after making it a manifesto pledge at the last election.

The practice was halted following concerns over a minor earthquake in Lancashire near the Cuadrilla site in 2019.

Climate minister Graham Stuart yesterday said it would be “irresponsible” not introduce new fracking in order to gather more data on the size of the UK’s shale gas reserves as it could be extracted with fewer emissions than importing liquified natural gas.

He said granting new oil and gas licences was “good for the environment” as production and usage would still fall and the emissions associated with extracting North Sea oil and gas were lower than those associated with imported hydrocarbons.

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