Former Conservative MP Chris Skidmore calls on the Labour party to adhere to their proposed £28 billion plan for investing in environmentally-friendly initiatives.
Chris Skidmore, who recently resigned as a Conservative MP due to Rishi Sunak’s stance on climate change, has stated that Labour should adhere to their proposed £28bn budget for addressing climate issues.
In an interview with the Guardian, the ex-official responsible for evaluating the government’s net zero strategy expressed their endorsement of the commitment, even though they identify as a “fiscal conservative”.
The Conservatives have been ramping up their criticisms of Labour’s proposal. However, Skidmore, who recently left the party, stated that the proposed investment is necessary and will ultimately have to be made. Waiting longer to invest in achieving net zero emissions will result in a much higher cost than the current estimate of £28 billion.
In 2021, the Labour party pledged to allocate £28 billion annually towards environmentally-friendly initiatives until 2030 should they win the election. However, the previous year, the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, stated that this would be a goal to strive for during the latter half of the first term if the party is victorious in the upcoming general election.
The previous Member of Parliament for Kingswood, where a byelection will take place in February, stated: “Labour has a clear goal regarding climate change. I share similar views with them on this issue,” and also noted that this illustrates how “partisan politics does not always fit into tidy categories.”
Although he generally supports reduced state spending, Skidmore emphasized the significance of investing in technology and achieving net zero.
He stated: “We are currently experiencing a significant revolution, with the emergence of new technologies. The countries that act quickly will have the advantage of being the first movers.”
“There is no free ride here. In the past, when we failed to invest in offshore wind, all the jobs or the industries went abroad. We failed to capitalise on that initial first lead. We failed to capitalise on nuclear in the past as well again; it all went to France. The jobs went elsewhere. I can see, as a historian, history repeating itself.”
Skidmore’s abrupt departure on Friday in response to the government’s proposed oil and gas licensing bill has resulted in criticism from his former coworkers. Some have accused him of being self-centered for triggering a by-election so close to the general election. Skidmore has expressed conflicting emotions since resigning, and regrets causing distress to others.
Skidmore, who has been a member of the Conservative party since 1996, is experiencing an identity crisis as he is no longer affiliated with the party. This marks the first time since 1996 that he is not a Tory.
“I was 28 years old when I was chosen for the position,” he stated. “I was not anticipating being chosen and now I am 42. As John Lennon famously stated, ‘We gave the best part of our 20s to the Beatles.’ Similarly, I devoted my late 20s and entire 30s to the Conservative party, and I am grateful for the amazing opportunities it has provided me. I do not deny this.”
Skidmore may find it odd to no longer hold the title of MP. He acknowledges the impact of this identity and is unsure how he will adjust to its absence.
“However, I was aware that my seat would be eliminated in the upcoming general election, and unfortunately, it has ended sooner than expected.”
He mentioned that he attempted to wait until May, but ultimately could not tolerate being a part of a party that debated the validity of fossil fuels and their impact on climate change.
“It feels odd to let go of one’s identity and search for a new one,” he stated. “I believe I made the correct decision and am satisfied with my actions. However, that phase of my life has come to an end.”
According to Skidmore, the Conservative party has taken a troubling path towards spreading false information and ignoring climate change. He played a key role in the uprising against the fracking vote, which is seen as the final straw in Liz Truss’s leadership. As a result, he has been at odds with the party for a while now, since they have shifted away from prioritizing climate action.
Last week, he came to a point where he could no longer continue fighting from within. He reflected, “Isn’t that the dilemma? Do you try to make changes from within or do you admit it’s not working?” He remained steadfast in his decision to vote against the party and even abstained from voting for the king’s speech. He acknowledged that this may have led to potential consequences, such as having the whip taken away from him. He also acknowledged that his work with Sadiq Khan on environmental issues was causing tension with the party.
Sunak is on the brink of encountering resistance from the conservative faction regarding his plans for Rwanda. Skidmore believes there is a discrepancy in how his colleagues are allowed to openly oppose the Rwanda scheme without facing consequences.
“No one has made these loyalty arguments about colleagues focusing on opposing – very vocally – the prime minister on Rwanda. The more that obviously is spoken about immigration in strong culture war terms, it raises the salience of immigration, and it just lends votes to Reform [the former Brexit party]. The more that people talk about the failure in the Conservative party on immigration, the more that goes up in the polling issues and then people tend to vote for a more extreme party,” he added.
According to the ex-minister, the Conservative party is at risk of losing the election due in part to Sunak’s abandonment of the goal of achieving net zero emissions.
According to him, there is a significant portion of Conservative voters who strongly support environmental conservation. He elaborated, stating that he has received numerous messages from people all over the country since stepping down. These individuals, who identify as conservatives, express their concern for issues such as net zero emissions and the environment. As a result, they may choose to vote for other parties in the upcoming election. He believes that this sentiment may sway the outcome of the election in several closely contested constituencies, with only a few thousand votes making a difference. Ultimately, the issue of net zero and climate action could be a deciding factor in the election.