Conservative MPs are said to be discussing with Labour ways to block Liz Truss’s move to allow fracking at sites across England.
The prime minister is determined to press ahead with plans to boost drilling for shale gas, despite opposition from environmentalists, opposition parties and some Tory MPs.
Several Tories told the BBC they had talked with the opposition about which parliamentary mechanisms could be used to force ministers into yet another U-turn.
A Labour source confirmed they had discussed ways to force a vote in the Commons with backbench Tories opposing fracking.
Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg – who announced the lifting of a ban on fracking last month – said MPs always “have a say”.
The cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “MPs always have a say on what goes on. There are any number of mechanisms that MPs can use to have a say on things.”
The business secretary added: “The government doesn’t have to give votes. There are backbench business debates, there are opposition day debates, there are amendments.”
Ms Truss’s first act in office was to lift the moratorium on shale gas drilling – blamed for causing earthquakes – despite a 2019 manifesto promise not to allow fracking unless it was scientifically proven to be safe.
The move to reverse the ban is opposed by many Tories in so-called red wall constituencies in the Midlands and north of England where provisional drilling licences are held.
As well as concerns about safety and the manifesto promise, Tory MPs have shared their anger about the lack of clarity over promises to give local communities “consent”.
Though the government is not planning a vote on the issue, Tory rebels are thought to be considering an whether an anti-fracking amendment could be table to an upcoming bill.
Another option reportedly being discussed is a Labour opposition day debate motion on fracking.
Although such a vote would not be binding, some are hoping the prospect of an embarrassing defeat could force Ms Truss to change her mind of fracking plans.
Mr Rees-Mogg – who said he would be “delighted” to have his own back garden drilled for shale gas – has suggested companies could offer compensation payments and, in some cases, cash royalties.
Mark Fletcher, the Tory MP for Bolsover, said last month that the consent plans “don’t seem to wash”, adding: “It seems to come back to local communities being bought off rather than having a vote.”
Mark Menzies, Tory MP for Fylde in Lancashire, told Mr Rees-Mogg there was “nothing luddite” about the safety concerns. He also demanded to know how local consent would be given if Ms Truss was to remain “a woman of her word”.