A MOTION to ban fracking which was originally considered to be a de-facto confidence vote in the UK Government has been defeated by 230 votes to 326.

Conservative whips initially stated the vote on whether to allocate Commons time to consider legislation to stop shale gas extraction was being treated as a “confidence motion” as pressure continues to mount on the Prime Minister. 

However, after a series of Tory MPs signalled they would not take part in the vote, climate minister Graham Stuart told the Commons: “Quite clearly this is not a confidence vote”. 

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When Conservative MP Ruth Edwards asked to clarify if those Tories who abstain or vote against the motion will lose the party whip, Stuart added: “That is a matter for party managers, and I am not a party manager.”

The news comes amid a chaotic night in Westminster where the chief whip Wendy Morton and her deputy Craig Whittaker both left their roles. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Suella Braverman left her role as home secretary and has been replaced by Grant Shapps. 

Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband pressed Stuart, saying Tory MPs would “want to know” whether or not they were able to vote on Labour’s motion. 

Miliband said: “For the guidance of the House, the minister said something very important from the despatch box. He said this is not a confidence motion. 

“And I think his members will want to know that. If he confirms that, then members opposite can vote for our motion in the safe knowledge that they can be confident in the current Prime Minister, so can he just confirm that?”

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The climate minister replied: “Colleagues on this side of the House are perfectly clear. They are not going to surrender and they’re not going to allow the Labour Party to be a government for a day by seizing control of the order paper.”

The division list showed that 40 Conservative MPs did not take part in the fracking vote. 

Not all of these can be considered abstentions, with some likely to have been on Government business.

Those known to be abstaining include Chris Skidmore and Angela Richardson who had earlier said they would vote against the UK Government.