A former Conservative minister has quit the party with a damning broadside against the “ideology and self-obsession” of her former colleagues.
Claire Perry O’Neill, a member of Theresa May’s cabinet and an MP from 2010 to 2019, said she left the “cavalier” Tories earlier this month and praised Sir Keir Starmer for his “sober” leadership of the Labour party.
Perry O’Neill was energy minister in the last two years of Ms May’s leadership and led UK preparations for the Cop26 summit before Boris Johnson sacked her in favour of Alok Sharma.
She said working away from Westminster had shown her that the Tories are too concerned with themselves to lead the country towards the clean energy it will need to meet its climate goals.
“As much as I like and admire the prime minister and chancellor, they are too beholden to a party dominated now by ideology and self-obsession to deliver the big changes we need in a fact-based, competent way,” she said.
“I spend most of my time now working in the private sector and this is not the way to build back confidence and deliver investment — especially in the crucial energy sector.”
In an article for The Times on how to ensure the growth of renewable energy, Ms Perry O’Neill added: “My former party’s often cavalier approach to business and academia coupled with a post-Brexit reluctance to strategically engage with our European neighbours has damaged our ability to deliver the energy system we need.”
Turning to Labour’s approach, she wrote: “As one of the longest-serving UK energy ministers, I want to applaud Keir Starmer and the Labour Party for putting energy at the top of their proposed new government inbox.”
She added: “Some of the latest policy proposals from the Labour Party, such as industrial support for key green technologies and a national low carbon wealth fund, look exciting and can only help the UK benefit from the economic opportunity driven by this great global pivot to a low carbon economic system.
“Building a low-carbon, secure, affordable energy system for the UK is an immense challenge that needs sober, fact-driven, competent political leadership. I sense that is exactly what we will get should Labour win the next general election.”
The former minister follows a major Tory donor and a former party MP in turning towards Labour under Sir Keir.
Gareth Quarry, a multimillionaire chair of legal recruitment giant SSQ, said in October that the Tories had repeatedly made Britain a “laughing stock” in recent years, as he announced he had donated £100,000 to the opposition party.
Last January, Christian Wakeford, MP for Bury South, crossed the floor of the Commons to join Labour in the midst of the Partygate scandal. He is now a Labour whip.