Rother Valley MP at centre of political storm over fracking vote allegations

ROTHER Valley’s MP was at the heart of a political storm after allegations were made he was “man-handled against his wishes” in Parliament by Tory MPs over a “disagreement” on fracking.

Alexander Stafford, according to Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda, was “bullied”, “jostled”, “shouted at” and “physically manhandled” into a lobby last night by cabinet members including business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg and health secretary Thérèse Coffey.

The row — the night before Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned this lunchtime — centre around a vote against a motion which could have seen a ban on extracting shale gas from the underground banned.

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Declining to blame his own government ministers for the incident, Mr Stafford responded to the incident by saying he would “always oppose fracking in Rother Valley” — an issue which could affect his constituents in Harthill and Woodsetts — despite voting alongside 318 Conservative members to stop it from being banned. 

Mr Stafford said the motion to ban fracking was ultimately a “Labour coup” to “take control of parliament” and make Sir Keir Starmer prime minister. 

“This vote was never about fracking but about Labour trying to destabilise the country, and take control of parliament,” he said. 

“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. 

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“No-one pushes me around. And the only ‘bullying’ I’ve felt is when the Rother Valley Labour Party used photos of my wife and babies in sponsored attack ads.”

Earlier in the day, Mr Rees-Mogg had told Harthill and Woodsetts residents in a social media video that fracking would not take place without “local consent”.

Labour Party member Jamie Turner said he “sided with Rother Valley constituents” in their opposition to fracking and called for an immediate general election to take place. 

“No matter how hard we are pushed, no matter how much it benefits our careers, Rother Valley Labour would never support fracking,” he said. 

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“We would never deflect attention on the issues that matter most to our community.

“We side with the people of Rother Valley who oppose fracking. It’s time for an election so we can get this country running again.”

The tide of public opinion also turned on Mr Stafford on social media who said he had “contradicted” his viewpoint on fracking which he claimed “would not answer the challenges faced by the country”.

Sue Perkins, broadcaster and comedian, said: “To conclude, you willingly voted against the ban on fracking in your constituency.”

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John Randles said: “This vote was about fracking. That’s exactly what the bill was. 

“Just to confirm, you voted against a ban on something you are opposed to? How do you think this looks to the general public?

Elena Gratton said Mr Stafford had been a “good MP and helped constituents with concerns” but was left questioning his decision to vote in the ban against fracking.

He said: “I can’t stand the fact that you do not stand by your convictions. 

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“You stand by the party line. You vote where you are told to and so that you can further your political career. 

“The government is falling apart in front of our eyes. And the people who are the worst off in our society are going to be the ones who pay for it. 

“Then you go and deny what happened to you and say you were not manhandled when there were first hand accounts saying you were. 

“You gain nothing by denying this. You lose my respect as an MP.”

Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, said “behaviour like that described last night is not acceptable” and confirmed an investigation would take place.