RISHI Sunak is facing a growing rebellion of senior Conservatives who are joining Boris Johnson and Liz Truss in trying to force him to drop a ban on new onshore wind farms.
Former party chairman Sir Jake Berry added his name yesterday to the Tory MPs backing rival legislation trying to force a U-turn from the Prime Minister.
Mr Sunak is also facing a split in opinion from within his own Cabinet, with Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove understood to be backing an end to the moratorium in England.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper acknowledged the situation is “not easy” and insisted a stream of Tory MPs saying they will not contest the next election is nothing for the party to worry about.
Ms Truss and Mr Johnson, both former prime ministers, are among more than 20 Conservatives backing a pro-wind amendment to the Levelling Up Bill. Alok Sharma, who was the president of the COP26 climate summit, has also backed the legislative move from former levelling-up secretary Simon Clarke.
Sir Jake said Mr Gove’s divergent opinion “spells real danger for my Government”, suggesting it is a “first crack in the wall” of discipline for Mr Sunak.
“Boris Johnson famously used to call wind turbines the white satanic mills of the north of England when they were building them all over my constituency,” he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. He’s changed his mind on them. I, to a large extent, have changed my mind and I’m going to be supporting Simon Clarke.”
The former minister, who was awarded a knighthood by Mr Johnson, argued soaring energy bills are the key reason to invest more in renewables. Mr Johnson did not seek to overturn the effective moratorium on new onshore wind projects, in place since 2015, during his time in Number 10.
Mr Sunak is seeing a steady stream of Conservative MPs, many of whom were thought to have bright careers ahead, announce their exit plans. His net-zero tsar Chris Skidmore became the ninth to say they will not contest the next election, following levelling-up minister Dehenna Davison. Mr Harper insisted they are setting out their positions now because Tories have been given until December 5 to make a decision due to the review into constituency boundaries.
CREDIT: Kathleen Nutt