Tory rebels denied chance to defeat Boris Johnson’s ‘1984’ Coronavirus laws

Tory rebels denied chance to defeat Boris Johnson’s ‘1984’ Coronavirus laws
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An amendment which sought to stop the Government changing coronavirus laws without first consulting MPs will not be debated.

The decision gives Boris Johnson breathing space in his bid to tame Tory fury over the government’s “1984-style” coronavirus laws.

Making his statement, Mr Speaker took time to blast the government’s “totally unsatisfactory” behaviour, with laws published “hours before they come into force”.

He said ministers’ reasoning was “unconvincing and shows a total disregard for the House”.

But he ruled that the amendment was out of order under advice from Parliamentary lawyers.

“But I am looking to the Government to rebuild relationships with this House after the contempt it has shown,” he added.

More than 50 MPs from wide parts of the Conservative party, including ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith, signed the amendment which would have given MPs more of a say on the blizzard of criminal laws rolling out across England.

The amendment had been drafted by Tory MP Sir Graham Brady.

But the Speaker’s decision to rule the amendment out of order means that it is likely the Coronavirus regulations will now pass almost unchallenged

Tory MPs are angry that a range of restrictions – including £4,000 fines for “recklessly” leaving isolation and £1,000 fines for pub landlords who allow dancing – were rolled out without MPs being consulted, or even told.

Currently, coronavirus laws can be made by the government instantly under sweeping powers to control Covid-19.

That means they only have to be approved by MPs retrospectively, once they’re already in force.

Sir Graham Brady’s amendment would have added a requirement to give Parliament “an opportunity to debate and to vote upon any secondary legislation with effect in the whole of England or the whole United Kingdom before it comes into effect.”

No10 is understood to be locked in discussions with the rebels about a possible climbdown.

Former chief whip Mark Harper said up to 100 Conservative MPs would have voted against the Government if they were to be given the opportunity.

Rules vary greatly across the country – and MPs can only debate them in hindsight

That anger won’t have dissipated just because of today’s decision not to hear the amendment.

“If there’s no compromise, and the Government doesn’t bring something forward, and there’s a vote on Sir Graham’s amendment, the Government will lose, I think that is certain, which is why I’m hopeful that there will be a compromise,” Mr Harper told Times Radio.

 “And for me, the bottom line, and I think for many colleagues, is this idea of having to get Parliament’s approval in advance, not afterwards.”

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