Great Britain

Jacob Rees-Mogg battles furious Tory rebellion as 'frustrated' MPs slam 'absurd' new plan

Jacob Rees-Mogg has introduced plans to end remote voting in Parliament, which was introduced to enable social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Leader of the House of Commons justified the idea, claiming that total numbers on the estate “will not increase significantly”, with MPs’ staff continuing to work from home. Tory MP Karen Bradley put forward amendments which would allow those MPs not able to travel to Westminster to keep participating in debates via video link and to vote remotely.

She told the House: "I have to say, this is a very uncomfortable day for me.

"I do not like being badged as a rebel on House business.

"I'm also determined that we will get back into a fully physical Parliament as soon as possible.

"Last night, I had a conversation with the MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon."

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Ms Bradley continued: "He wanted to be here today, but his doctor has advised him that he must not for his own health.

"So the idea that we decided today to disenfranchise him completely seems to me to be absurd.

"I know how frustrated he is by this.

"I have every sympathy with the desire to get back to fully physical voting."

The former cabinet minister added: "I also would welcome tests of other forms of remote voting.

"But when we introduced remote voting, we did so after we had tested it and tried it.

"Nobody has tested and tried this proposal for physical voting."

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Ms Bradley said: "So I say to the Leader of the House, please allow remote voting to continue for a short period of time.

"We will all work together to find a form of physical voting which all of us can be happy with."

"The rationale for returning to normal proceedings is a straightforward one: Parliament is the assembly of the nation.

"The public expects it to deliver on the mandate provided by last year's general election.

"It expects it to conduct the kind of effective scrutiny that puts ministers under real pressure. Neither expectation can be fully realised while we are not sitting physically."

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