Tory high command will be furious as ‘rebel with cause’ Skidmore quits early | Politics News

A by-election in Kingswood, a suburban seat to the east of Bristol, is not a very attractive proposition for any aspiring candidates.

That’s because the constituency, where Chris Skidmore had a 11,220 majority at the last election, is being abolished at the next general election.

That was a reason Mr Skidmore, an environmental crusader his critics would claim is a zealot, gave when he announced in 2022 that he planned to stand down at the end of this parliament.

But he’s had enough and is going now.

So whoever wins the by-election, which the former energy minister hopes to trigger next week, will be the constituency’s MP for less than a year.

The Tory high command will be furious that he’s creating a third by-election early this year, on top of Wellingborough and probably Blackpool South, which party chiefs will regard as unnecessary.

Mr Skidmore is a rebel with a cause, however.

He’s long been a bitter critic of Rishi Sunak‘s ditching of the UK’s net zero commitments and other anti-green moves to appease right-wing Tory MPs.

The final straw is the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, which has its second reading in the Commons on the first day MPs are back at Westminster after the Christmas recess, on Monday.

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This bill is seen as another piece of Conservative legislation to create a clear dividing line with Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, which is opposed to granting more North Sea oil and gas licences.

Kingswood was held by Labour from 1992 until 2010, when Mr Skidmore won it with a majority of just 2,445 before gradually turning it from a marginal into a relative safe Tory seat.

But recent by-elections have suggested there’s now no such thing as a safe Tory seat. And Labour will be confident of winning it back, even if the winner holds it for less than a year.

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