Alexander Stafford: fury as Rother Valley anti-fracking MP votes with government against ban
Mr Stafford, the MP for Rother Valley, was rumoured to have been manhandled through the voting lobby by senior Tories amid what were widely reported to be chaotic scenes in Parliament last night.
Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates and Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher also voted against the Labour amendment which would have banned fracking in England.
Mr Stafford took to Twitter to defend his decision to vote with the government and unleashed a storm of criticism.
He tweeted: “Lots of rumours flying around tonight. This vote was never about fracking but about Labour trying to destabilise the country, and take control of Parliament.
“I had a frank and robust conversation outside the voting lobbies confirming my opposition to fracking, with members of the government, nothing more, reconfirming my position which I spoke about in the Chamber this evening.”
Appearing to deny rumours he was manhandled, he added: “No one pushes me around. And the only ‘bullying’ I’ve felt is when the Rother Valley Labour Party use photos of my wife and babies in sponsored attack ads.”
His tweets were met with thousands of responses, mainly angry at his assertions and the way he voted.
Sheffield councillor Ben Miskell, who is standing as the Labour candidate for Rother Valley in the next election, tweeted: “Last night Alex Stafford chose Liz Truss over Rother Valley and voted against a ban on fracking under our feet.
‘Against fracking since day one’
“Only Labour will ban fracking in Rother Valley and across the country. We need a Labour MP and a General Election now!”
Earlier in the day, Mr Stafford tweeted a video of himself with business and energy minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, stating on camera that local people would have the final say on fracking plans.
Mr Stafford asked the minister: “You know I’ve been against fracking since day one in Woodsetts and Harthill , so what does this new policy mean?”
He replied: “Well, Alex, I can give you an absolute assurance and I can give an assurance to your constituents in Rother Valley, and Harthill and Woodsetts, that there will not be fracking without local consent.
“This is what the Prime Minister promised during her leadership campaign and it is what I’m promising today in the House of Commons. The whole point of local consent is that communities need to be in favour, and if they’re not, it won’t proceed.”
Mr Stafford asked: “Just to make it absolutely clear then, if Harthill and Woodsetts choose not to have fracking they’re not going to have fracking, and that’s done and dusted?”
Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “If Harthill and Woodsetts do not want fracking, they will not have fracking. That will be a choice for them.”
Mr Stafford has previously made clear his opposition to fracking. The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto said the party would not support fracking “unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely”, a position that Liz Truss’s government has since abandoned.
We have approached all three MPs for comment on how they voted but have so far had no response.