A Tory MP has been slammed for taking to social media to brand opposition MPs ‘work-shy’ for wanting to continue withthe virtual parliament during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rees-Mogg said he wants MPs to come in after June 2, following the Whitsun recess, to set an example to the rest of the country, but that MPs’ staff would continue to be encouraged to work from home.
He argued that the hybrid parliament has cut the time available for debating legislation by around two-thirds, and prevented ‘proper scrutiny’.
MPs will continue to follow social distancing rules on their return, including by keeping six feet apart when casting their votes in the chamber.
Opposition parties MPs failed in their bid to take control of the Commons agenda to enable a vote on how the chamber operates after the Whitsun recess after their amendment was not selected.
But they were backed by some Tory politicians including Michael Fabricant who said: ‘The current ‘hybrid’ arrangements, however, while far from perfect, mean that MPs can work from home while all can still take part in voting on legislation, asking questions, scrutinising the Government, speaking in debates, as well as undertaking constituency work.’
But Brexiteer MP Henry Smith was angry by the resistance. He said that the opposition were being ‘lazy’ when they rejected the government’s plans to return to the Commons.
‘Not that I should be surprised by the lazy left but interesting how work-shy socialist and nationalist MPs tried to keep the remote parliament going beyond 2 June,’ he tweeted.
The Tory MP for Crawley received scores of angry responses for his claims.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called the comments ‘nonsense’, adding that MPs and their staff from all parties have been ‘working hard’ from their homes during the lockdown.
Jess Phillips tweeted a video of Tory MP Robert Halfon criticising plans to force MPs back to the Commons.
‘Hey @HenrySmithUK is Robert workshy? I don’t think so in fact he’s one of the harder working parliamentarians,’ she wrote.
Business Insider political editor for the UK, Adam Bienkov, shared a screenshot of Boris Johnson recommending people work from home during his latest pre-recorded TV address.
Comedian Sue Perkins went for the jugular. ‘Lazy LEFT? Your boss missed COBRA meetings and went on holiday at the outset of a pandemic….’ she posted.
Phil Harrison questioned the Smith’s work ethic: ‘So you’ve basically just admitted that you’ve been doing bugger all during lockdown. I feel sorry for your constituents. They deserve better.’
@woodgnomology posted an article of the Tory MP calling for parliament to be prorogued. ‘So a ‘remote’ parliament is beyond the pale,’ he said, ‘but a prorogued parliament is perfectly acceptable. Some people might call that self-serving, or hypocritical, or both.’
Dan Pettit lapped up the irony of it all: ‘Nothing ironic about calling the left lazy when your boss is the [most] absent leader in UK history. Also the irony that yet again parliament is on holiday for a period leading up to when they are forcing schools to reopen isn’t lost on me…’