Jacob Rees-Mogg told he’s the ‘worst holder of the Commons leader title in living memory’
- Credit: Archant
Jacob Rees-Mogg has been told to resign over his 'shambolic' handling of voting arrangements in the House of Commons, which was dubbed the Mogg-conga' by one MP.
Complaints have been made about requiring members to travel across the UK to attend Westminster in person after the government dropped virtual proceedings, which had allowed them to contribute remotely via Zoom and vote online.
Social distancing requirements limit MP numbers in the chamber to 50 and business secretary Alok Sharma left a Commons debate on Wednesday to undergo a coronavirus test after being taken ill.
Labour former minister Angela Eagle called on Rees-Mogg to resign after she claimed he was the worst Commons leader 'in living memory'.
She said: 'The current leader of the House is rapidly building a strong claim to the title of the worst holder of the job in living memory.
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'He is supposed to be the voice of the government and the Commons in government as well as a member of the government and he's failing dismally at that task.
'He illegally shut down parliament, then unilaterally abolished the perfectly fair system of electronic voting and hybrid proceedings developed to ensure at least some scrutiny of the government during the pandemic.'
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Eagle then referred to the 'coronavirus conga' and warned it put at risk the health of MPs and parliamentary staff, adding Rees-Mogg's 'arrogance' was to blame.
She went on: 'Can he show some bravery and make time next week for us to debate his disastrous record and perhaps even call for his resignation?'
Rees-Mogg replied: 'What she has said is so overcooked, exaggerated, we poor members, we couldn't queue for a little time to do our public duty, how hard was it.
'It was very amusing reading in The Times how some members were quite incapable of walking in the right direction, but I think that's more their problem than mine.'
Rees-Mogg, asked how adjustments will be made to help disabled MPs, said: 'MPs with health concerns will need to make their own decisions about what is appropriate for them.'
He added the government has tabled motions to allow virtual participation for those who cannot attend for medical or health reasons and to extend proxy voting to them, adding: 'I'm always open and always have been open to listening to any suggestions that MPs have to make.'
Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz earlier said: 'That image of our parliament is going to live with this Parliament forever. Time-wasting, shambolic, breaking the rules, putting people's lives at risk.'
Rees-Mogg replied: 'How can we look teachers in our constituencies in the eye when we're asking them to go back to work and we're saying we're not willing to?'
For the SNP, Patrick Grady said too many members are being 'actively excluded' by the government's refusal to allow MPs to participate remotely.
Labour MP Clive Efford also called for an end to the 'Mogg-conga' voting process, describing its organisation as 'chaotic'.