Boris Johnson is preparing to crack down on Tory rebels who are demanding that parliament be given the right to vote over future coronavirus restrictions.
- Downing Street faces a growing Tory rebellion over the introduction of Covid rules
- About 60 Tory rebels now support the offer to give MPs votes on future restrictions
- You want Parliament to be able to vote on new rules before they are imposed
- But Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be preparing to face the rebels
Boris Johnson is preparing to crack down on Tory rebels who are demanding that Parliament vote on future coronavirus restrictions before they are imposed, it was alleged today.
About 60 Tory MPs are believed to support a 1922 amendment by the committee chairman Sir Graham Brady that a vote on new rules would be required "as soon as possible".
They are hoping for a vote on the amendment on Wednesday, when ministers ask parliament to officially renew their powers in the event of a coronavirus emergency.
However, the government is said to be of the opinion that Commons spokesman Sir Lindsay Hoyle will decide that the amendment is “out of scope” and therefore there will be no vote on it.
The Sunday Telegraph said that if the amendment is not selected, Mr Johnson will reject the demand that the government vote on future rules of its own accord.
That would effectively only leave the Tory rebels the "nuclear" option of voting against the renewal of the coronavirus law to defend their position – something the vast majority of the 60 MPs do not want to do.
Conservative backers are still hoping the government will compromise, saying it is no longer appropriate to restrict our freedoms by ministerial regulation.
The controversy over Parliament's vote on the rules before they were introduced came when Labor polled the Tories for the first time since Mr Johnson took office as Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson is under pressure from Tory MPs to give Parliament a vote on new coronavirus restrictions before they are imposed
The 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady has tabled an amendment requiring new rules to be voted on before they come into effect
Sir Graham's amendment is designed to allow MPs to vote on any new coronavirus restrictions proposed by the government.
If it is chosen by Sir Lindsay and 60 Tory MPs, there is a real risk for Mr Johnson that his 85-seat working majority will be overturned – should opposition parties choose to back the move too.
The government must ask parliament to extend the powers contained in the coronavirus law for another six months on Wednesday and the rebels hope Sir Lindsay will grant them a vote on Sir Graham's amendment.
If the amendment is not selected and the government refuses to move, it would effectively result in the prime minister daring Conservative MPs to vote against the renewal of the law.
The vast majority of rebels are unlikely to be willing to go that far, as torpedoing the legislative renewal would cause massive damage to the government and limit ministers' ability to respond to the pandemic.
However, the rebels remain confident that an agreement can be reached with the government to give parliament more leverage on new restrictions.
Andrew Mitchell, former Chief Whip, said: "If the chairman of the 1922 committee leads such a rebellion, it would be an extremely negligent Prime Minister to ignore it."
Sir Graham told the Observer that "it is important that the House of Commons have the opportunity to debate and vote on emergency measures before they go into effect".
Steve Baker, former Tory Brexit Minister, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: “Covid-19 remains a dangerous disease for those at risk, but it is now clear that the position is not as disastrous as feared.
"It is no longer appropriate to restrict our freedoms by a ministerial decree with only ex post parliamentary approval, often after the rules have been changed or repealed."
The Tory Rebellion came when a poll conducted by Opinium found that for the first time in Parliament, the Labor Party had a poll lead over the Tories.
Labor is now 42 percent of the vote, three points more than two weeks ago, and the Tories fell three points to 39 percent.