The government is facing imminent defeat of its bill to extend Covid-19 emergency powers, a Tory rebel has claimed.
One minister and up to 50 Tory MPs are expected to withhold their support when the government’s legal extension of its lockdown powers goes to a vote in the Commons next week, The Telegraph has claimed.
The paper also reports Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, has been consulting Number 10 on how his country has avoided a second coronavirus spike without locking down.
The government is looking to extend legislation introduced back in April that grants ministers unilateral power to impose new coronavirus restrictions.
The move has been met with fierce resistance from a pocket of Tory backbenchers.
Earlier this week, Graham Brady – chair of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers – accused the government of using the coronavirus pandemic to “rule by decree”.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Brady said: “The government has got into the habit of ruling by decree in respect to the coronavirus issue without the usual debate and discussion and votes in parliament that we would expect on any other matter.”
He has since tabled an amendment that would “make sure that the powers that are exercised under the public health act or the coronavirus act are subject to parliamentary scrutiny and approved for.”
This comes as the government’s scientific advisers mull over introducing stricter measures after coronavirus cases leapt to 6,178 on Wednesday – a 25% jump on the previous day.
One of the key rebels behind the revolt, former ERG chair Steve Baker, was certain Brady’s amendment would “100%” pass next week’s vote.
“I’m absolutely, 100% certain it will pass, if Labour and the SNP vote for it,” he told Robert Peston on his show on Wednesday evening.
He added: “If they’re serious about doing their duties as a constructive opposition then they need to back Sir Graham’s amendment and say to the government that we do need to vote in parliament before liberties are locked down”.
The Times‘ Tom Newton Dunn reported that the government faced a “week from hell” with three Tory backbench rebellions due over three consecutive days next week.
He said the first will occur on Monday when a debate on the emergency powers will proceed without a vote on the Brady amendment, followed by a revolt of 15-20 MPs against the government’s internal market bill currently being led by former Tory prime minister Theresa May on Tuesday and a rebellion on Wednesday when the Coronavirus Act is finally put to a vote in the Commons.