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Jacob Rees-Mogg’s bizarre defence of government’s Voter ID plans

Jacob Rees-Mogg in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended the government’s plans to require photographic identification to vote by comparing it to a ban on MPs wearing overcoats and hats during Commons divisions.

The Commons leader was challenged by Labour over the proposal amid fears it could disenfranchise some voters who do not have any form of photo ID.

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire described the plans as an “attack on democracy”, adding: “Will the Leader of the House please explain to his own constituents why they can’t vote by giving their name to a clerk and being counted by a teller when this is how their own MP votes in this place – in normal times at least.”

MORE: Former Scottish Tory leader criticises Boris Johnson’s voter ID proposals

But Rees-Mogg compared the plans to MPs not being allowed to wear coats in Commons votes.

He told MPs: “It is important that elections are fair and proper. (Debbonaire) mentioned we don’t have to prove who we are when voting in the division lobbies in normal circumstances but she’s forgetting that we’re not allowed to wear overcoats in the division lobbies just in case we send somebody through to vote in our place or indeed – as Mr Speaker helpfully says – hats.

“So therefore there are requirements in this place to prevent impersonation.”

Labour former minister Chris Bryant shouted that MPs are allowed to vote while wearing masks during the pandemic, but Rees-Mogg said they do need to show their identity cards under the current arrangement.

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