The new prime minister has said he will deliver on the promises in the 2019 Conservative election manifesto.
The manifesto included a moratorium on fracking in England, lifted by the previous prime minister, Liz Truss, on her fourth day in office.
Rishi Sunak, speaking in Downing Street this morning, said the party’s 2019 election mandate belonged and united “all of us”. He said:
“The heart of that mandate is our manifesto. I will deliver on its promise.”
He did not mention fracking in the brief speech. Nor did one of his key supporters, the former Home Office minister, Victoria Atkins, in broadcast interviews this morning.
But she told Sky News:
“Rishi said we will stick to the 2019 manifesto. It’s as simple as that,”
The moratorium in England was formally lifted on 22 September by the former prime minister’s business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, prompting accusations of breaking the manifesto promises.
In a written ministerial statement (WMS) on shale gas, Mr Rees-Mogg said it was “in the national interest” for people living and working near fracking sites to “tolerate a higher degree of risk and disturbance.”
He is facing a legal challenge to the WMS from three campaign organisations and resigned soon after this morning’s speech.
Mr Sunak supported fracking during the leadership contest against Liz Truss. In a Talk TV/Sun leadership debate in July, he was asked “fracking yes or no?” He replied “Yes, if local communities support it”.
Last week, there were chaotic scenes in parliament when some Conservative MPs were reportedly “manhandled” into the voting lobbies to defeat a Labour motion calling for a vote on a fracking ban.
“Mistakes were made”
Mr Sunak paid tribute this morning to Liz Truss: her “restlessness to create change” and “the noble aim” for growth. But he said:
“Some mistakes were made”
He had been appointed as prime minister, in part, to fix them, he said.
“That work begins immediately”, he said.
Economic confidence and stability would be at the “heart of this government’s agenda”. “This will mean difficult decisions to come”, he said.
He promised he would bring compassion to today’s challenges. He said he would not leave the next generation with a debt that “we were too weak to pay ourselves”.
He also pledged to unite the country with actions, not words:
“This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level. Trust is earned and I will earn yours”.