MPs warn new voting system could lead to second wave of coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 11:08 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:49 04 June 2020
Westminster MPs are concerned that new Commons voting arrangements might put them in contact with parliamentarians who have coronavirus and make them potential spreaders.
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Opposition MPs have claimed the new voting system puts them and their constituencies at risk of a second spread of the coronavirus.
The government has passed legislation forcing MPs back to the Commons in order to for their vote to be counted.
However, with business secretary Alok Sharma in self-isloation with a suspected case of Covid-19, and fears elderly or shielding MP will not be able to vote on important legislation, the government is looking to make amendments to the bill to allow for a proxy vote.
But MPs say those measures do not go far enough. SNP MP Amy Callaghan called on the leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, to reintroduce the hybrid form of parliament.
“So because Jacob Rees-Mogg put on his big-boy pants & wanted to play politics, other people - including workers across the entire estate - may have been exposed to #COVID-19,” she wrote on Twitter.
“This isn’t politics nor a game; this is real life. Hybrid parliament should be reintroduced immediately.”
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy called the new system “just awful”. “The government stopped MPs from working from home and asked us to return to a building where social distancing is impossible. MPs are travelling home to every part of the country tonight. Reckless doesn’t even begin to describe it,” she said.
Appearing on Sky News, Nandy said MPs like her were travelling home from Westminster, potentially spreading the virus to local communities.
Touching on her train journey from London to Westminster, she said: “I was around other people at the train station. I was socially distant but I was on the train, on public transport. I came back home to my family. I have a young child who may well be going back to school when schools re-open.
“Members of parliament were doing that all across the country yesterday and are still doing it today and there is no reason for this.”
She added: “This is a complete mess of the government’s making...To say it’s reckless is a complete understatement.”
Liberal Democrats MP Daisy Cooper said the measures were putting “lives at risk” and called for the Commons leader to resign.
She wrote: “Now @Jacob_Rees_Mogg should RESIGN as @CommonsLeader: for bringing the House into disrepute, and needlessly putting lives at risk. And the speaker @LindsayHoyle_MP should return parliament to virtual proceedings only with immediate effect.”
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