Labour’s motion on whether there would be a vote on banning fracking sparked confusion among Tory MPs after party whips signalled the vote could actually be about confidence in the government.
That led to reports from opposition MPs of senior Tories “manhandling” junior members of the party in the House of Commons lobby. Labour MP Chris Bryant called on Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle to launch an investigation into Tory MPs being “bullied” into voting along with the government on the matter.
Bryant said: “I saw members being physically manhandled into another lobby, and being bullied. If we want to stand up against bullying in this house against our staff, we have to stop bullying in this chamber as well.”
To add to the confusion, both the chief whip Wendy Morton and deputy Craig Whittaker were reported to have resigned before the government later confirmed they both remained in post.
The government did win the vote – which came just hours after home secretary Suella Braverman quit – on the Ban on Fracking for Shale Gas Bill, by 326 votes to 230. But a number of Tory MPs did rebel.
In total 33 Conservative MPs abstained from the vote or were absent. Find out how your MP voted here.
Sacked chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was among the Tories who did not vote along with the government, as was ex-prime minister Theresa May and COP26 secretary Alok Sharma. They were joined by more ex-ministers members from Boris Johnson’s cabinet Priti Patel and Nadine Dorries.
Former prime minister Johnson did not vote either – he is reportedly on holiday in the Caribbean.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace had been given permission to miss the vote as he is currently on a trip to Washington.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis, ex-culture and sport secretary Tracey Crouch and Greg Clark, the levelling up secretary up until the summer, also declined to vote in line with the government.
Chris Skidmore also abstained after he said earlier he would not vote to support fracking, which would break a 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge. The former energy minister, signed the government’s net-zero policy into law, said: “For the sake of our environment and climate, I cannot personally vote tonight to support fracking and undermine the pledges I made at the 2019 General Election.
“I am prepared to face the consequences of my decision.”
Angela Richardson echoed Skidmore’s stance before the vote while William Wragg was among those who also abstained.
The Hazel Grove MP has publicly called for Truss to quit and submitted a letter of no-confidence in her leadership. In the debate before the vote Wragg said: “If I was to vote in the way I would wish I would lose the whip. I would no longer be vice-chair of the 1922 committee… and indeed because of that my letter lodged [with 1922 chairman Sir Graham Brady] would fall and I wish to maintain that letter.”
Following Labour’s defeat, shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband said: “Tonight, the Conservatives have voted against Labour’s fracking ban, against the wishes of their constituents, the British people, and their own manifesto.
“They have chosen to stand by a failing prime minister against the best interests of working people.”