Tories give MPs tips on rebutting sewage-dumping attacks from Lib Dems and Labour

We don’t want more weasel words, we have already heard Jupp deploy the “I would never vote to pollute our water” argument’

To which Owl replied: Simon it is true that you didn’t actually vote to pollute our water, but you did vote against imposing a legal duty to stop it, instead voting for something very much more “light touch”.

This month Thérèse Coffey continued the “light touch” by backtracking on plans for penalties having already extended clean up deadlines to 2035.

Richard Vaughan 

Tory MPs will be given tips on how to counter claims being made by the Liberal Democrats and Labour over raw sewage being pumped into the country’s rivers and seas.

The issue of the UK’s polluted waterways has become a key battleground in certain parts of the country, with the Conservatives increasingly finding themselves on the back foot.

In a bid to push back against the charges being made against MPs, the party will be giving local council candidates and would-be MPs briefings on the matter ahead of the local and general elections.

Tories will be handed extensive information on what action the Government is taking to prevent sewage dumping in rivers, while providing them with facts and figures to rebut claims being made by the Lib Dems and Labour.

There is growing exasperation among many Conservatives in areas where river pollution is a major local issue, as they believe they are being unfairly criticised by opposition parties for something that is largely beyond their control.

As revealed by i last week, the Lib Dems have drawn up a target list of Tory seats where sewage is a contentious issue and they believe they can gain votes.

One Tory MP who has two rivers running through their constituency bemoaned the Lib Dem attacks, adding: “It’s easy for them because they can take the moral high ground.”

Particular anger is focused on how Conservative MPs are being accused of voting in favour of allowing water companies to continue pumping sewage into the waterways when they voted to pass the Environment Act last year.

An amendment tabled by hereditary peer the Duke of Wellington called for such pumping to be illegal if any raw sewage was spilled into the system. It was voted down by Government MPs.

Clean water campaigners in Devon have erected fake blue plaques on the seafront recording local Tory MP Simon Jupp as having failed to prevent raw sewage from being dumped in the region’s rivers and seas.

One senior backbencher said the sewage issue was regularly referred to on internal WhatsApp groups, with colleagues left “angry” that they are being accused of making the issue worse.

“We were voting to improve the situation, if it were illegal for any rainwater to run back into the waterways leading to heavy fines for the water companies, it would have just been added to people’s bills,” the MP said.

“This is a hugely complex issue, and you can just try and fix it overnight, it will take time to sort it.”

Conservative sources also believe that the two main opposition parties’ policy suggestions do not add up. Tories have claimed that under the Lib Dems’ plan to hit the water companies with a sewage tax of 16 per cent on their profits, it would take 500 years to raise the money needed to solve the problem.

The Tories also accused Labour of promising an uncosted solution and raised doubts that its plans for automatic fines for water companies if they dump sewage into the waterways is workable.