Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted the Tories have a “real opportunity” at the next general election following the shock win in Boris Johnson’s former seat.
The Conservative former Cabinet minister said the “lesson” from the victory in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election is that “what works is getting rid of unpopular, expensive green policies”.
Labour had hoped to snatch the West London constituency in Thursday’s ballot but their defeat has largely been blamed on Sadiq Khan’s hated expansion of the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) in the capital.
Sir Jacob told GB News: “I think Uxbridge is really interesting and important because if we get rid of things like ULEZ, which have popped up across the country, and we show we are on the side of the British voter – we stop burdening them with extra charges, extra regulations, extra interference in their lives – then I think there is a real chance.”
He went on: “By-elections don’t necessarily predict what is going to happen in a general election.
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“They do give an opportunity for Governments to think about what they are doing and see what works and what doesn’t.
“What works is getting rid of unpopular, expensive green policies, and that is a real opportunity for us.”
Sir Jacob set out a series of green measures he would scrap.
He said: “I would certainly get rid of the pledge to get rid of petrol cars in 2030. That was done a few years ago in different circumstances.
“I would get rid of the plans in the Energy Bill to put extra charges on people and have extra certificates for people selling their houses, owning property and so on.
“I would get rid of things that apply direct costs. Having a long-term ambition for net zero is different and working towards it but we need to think about what other countries are doing, what is proportionate and what is affordable.”
Sir Jacob added: “The lesson of Uxbridge is that there are things that we can change that will be electorally successful.”
The Tories’ narrow victory in Mr Johnson’s former seat after they lost two safe constituencies has sparked debate in the party about green policies.
Local government minister Lee Rowley today insisted green pledges will not be abandoned.
Mr Rowley told Times Radio: “No, we still have the objective of treading more lightly on the earth. I think everybody agrees with that; I think it is a very sensible thing to do.
“We have set a series of targets, very ambitious targets to get to 2050.
“But what I think Uxbridge shows is that we have to do this in a careful manner, a manner over the course of several decades – and we have to take people with us.
“And that is something that the Labour Party failed to do in making their case in Uxbridge, and what the Government wants to be very careful about doing is making sure that people come with us on this journey.”