Keir Starmer criticises government decision to end virtual parliament during coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 13:47 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 20:56 03 June 2020

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaking during Prime Minister's Questions (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire)

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaking during Prime Minister's Questions (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire)

HOC/JESSICA TAYLOR

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has criticised the government for dropping the virtual parliament system, and for the “shameful” and “unnecessary” system that has replaced it.

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Prime minister Boris Johnson said it was not 'unreasonable' to call MPs back to parliament; ParliamentLivePrime minister Boris Johnson said it was not 'unreasonable' to call MPs back to parliament; ParliamentLive

In the fourth session of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) since Boris Johnson returned to work after contracting Covid-19, the prime minister and opposition leader went head-to-head over new voting rules for MPs.

Sir Keir called scenes of members having to queue outside the Houses of Parliament to cast their vote a “clear and obvious case of indirect discrimination under the Equalities Act.”

“The scenes yesterday of MPs queuing to vote and members being unable to vote were frankly shameful. This should not be a political issue. Members on all sides should know that this is completely unnecessary and unacceptable,” he said.

“If any other employer acted like this it would be a clear and obvious case of indirect discrimination under the equalities act... So, can I urge the prime minister to stop this and to continue to allow online voting and hybrid parliament to resume?”

MORE: Brexiteer MP calls new Commons voting system a ‘farce’ despite voting for it



Johnson replied in force saying he felt it was not “unreasonable” for force MPs back to the Chamber.

He said: “I think the people of this country, on the whole, will want their parliamentarians doing their job and passing legislation.”

Having come under considerable criticism for not considering MPs with health issues Johnson also announced plans to allow member to have a proxy vote.

“I apologise to all those who have particular difficulties because they’re shielded or elderly. The change we’re making to day is that they should be able to vote by proxy,” he added.

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