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THERESA VILLIERS’S failure to disclose ownership of £70,000 in Shell shares while she was environment secretary sheds light on the Tories’ anti-strikes and anti-protest laws, climate campaigners have said.
The former member of Boris Johnson’s cabinet is facing calls to resign as an MP after admitting her shareholding in the oil and gas company via her latest update to the register of members’ financial interests.
MPs are required to register any change to their registrable interests within 28 days, but a list of ministers’ interests from November 2019 did not mention Ms Villiers’ connection to Shell.
The MP for Chipping Barnet’s latest register entry for shareholdings, valued at more than £70,000, now includes “from February 23 2018, Shell PLC; energy” and newly declared shares above the same threshold in drinks manufacturer Diageo and Experian PLC.
Greenpeace UK co-executive director Areeba Hamid said the revelation was a “sign of how close the Conservative Party is with this planet-wrecking industry.”
“Is it any surprise they’re shutting the door to civil society while dishing out new oil and gas licences? Faced with images of horrifying wildfires and flooding, it’s not what voters want or deserve,” she added.
“We need a government that will stand up to vested interests and tackle the climate crisis head on, not continue to add fuel to the fire and stoke oil and gas companies’ profits.”
Labour’s Richard Burgon MP said: “We can’t expect MPs to fight climate change if they’re financially benefiting from oil and gas companies.”
And wildlife presenter and activist Chris Packham said: “You couldn’t make it up ... and you don’t have to.”
Treasury minister John Glen described Ms Villiers’s omission as an “oversight on her part” and insisted the former minister has been “very clear” in apologising.
A spokesman for Ms Villiers said she “deeply regrets her failure to monitor the value of shareholdings and has offered her sincere apologies.
“She is taking steps to ensure that this never happens again. Nothing she has ever said or done as MP has been influenced by these shareholdings.”
The spokesman added she disclosed that she “had a portfolio of shares which was professionally managed for her and over which she did not take investment decisions” when she became environment secretary.
Green co-leader Adrian Ramsay said: “You have to question how serious the Conservatives are in tackling the climate crisis when the Cabinet contains people deriving financial benefit from fossil fuel company shares of any value.
“We need representatives in Parliament focused on freeing us from our dependence on oil and gas which is destroying our planet and instead investing in the energy sources of the future — wind, sun and water.”
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