Government under pressure from small group of Conservative MPs to scrap the coronavirus regulations but wins the vote nevertheless.
First published in October 2020.
A small rebellion of 14 Conservative Members of Parliament voted on Tuesday against the government’s ‘Rule of Six’ regulations, joined by 5 DUP MPs, as Britain records 14,542 new Covid-19 cases and 76 more deaths.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No.4) Regulations 2020 – actually a retrospective vote on the implementation of the new measure under existing legislation since the regulations are already in force – was passed 287 votes to 17 (the entire opposition and as many as 62 Tories abstained).
Earlier in the debate, Helen Whately, the Minister of State for Social Care, told angry Tory MPs who questioned the rationale behind children not being exempt from the restriction: “The position on this is that, as I have said, a clear steer ... the need for guidance to be simple and absolutely clear for everybody, and also taking a path of on the one hand trying to enable a level of socialising for the sake of people’s quality of life, while taking steps to control the virus.”
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson – under pressure from his Conservative MPs to scrap the coronavirus regulations, including the ‘Rule of Six’ and the 10pm pub curfew in England, amid claims that these are intrusive measures which aren’t justified by any medical evidence – hinted at a possible suspension of the ‘Rule of Six’ on Christmas Day to keep them happy and keep his majority together.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had told the media his party would back the Government, “We will support on the rule of six. There are, of course, arguments about whether it should be six or a different number, I think clarity and simplicity is really important here and therefore we will support the rule of six tonight.”
Among the 62 Tory MPs who did not vote, many are ministers who have justified reasons for their absence. The question now is, out of the 14 rebel MPs how many will now lose the whip for voting against their government?🔷
PMP News reporting.
🗳️ Keir Starmer