Tory Brexiteers demand guarantee they can vote on trade deal in person

Tory Brexiteers demand guarantee they can vote on trade deal in person

December 28, 2020

Hold historic Brexit vote in the Commons, not our living rooms: Brexiteers demand to debate and vote on Boris Johnson’s trade deal in person on Wednesday after Speaker urged MPs to stay home

  • MPs and peers will vote on Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal on Wednesday
  • Hundreds of MPs are expected to take part remotely because of Covid rules
  • Sir Lindsay Hoyle told MPs not to attend in person unless ‘absolutely necessary’ 
  • But Tory Brexiteers adamant they will be in the chamber for ‘historic occasion’ 

Tory Brexiteers have demanded a guarantee they will be able to debate and vote on Boris Johnson’s EU trade deal in person on Wednesday amid fears they could be ‘forced to participate from their living rooms’. 

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, has encouraged MPs to take part in proceedings virtually and not to come to Westminster unless it is ‘absolutely necessary’. 

Sir Lindsay wrote to all MPs to set out his position as the parliamentary authorities try to guard against the spread of coronavirus, especially after London was moved into Tier 4. 

But Conservative Eurosceptics are adamant they must be able to participate in person on the ‘historic occasion’ as Parliament rubber stamps the UK’s arrangements for life outside of the EU. 

Boris Johnson will crash his Brexit trade deal with the EU through Parliament in a single day on Wednesday

Sir Lindsay Hoyle has urged MPs to take part remotely but Tory Brexiteers are adamant they want to be in the chamber for the ‘historic occasion’

The Government is planning to crash the PM’s trade accord through the House of Commons and the Lords in a single day ahead of the end of the transition period on Thursday evening. 

The Future Relationship Bill is expected to sail through Parliament because of Mr Johnson’s 80-seat majority and after Sir Keir Starmer ordered Labour MPs to back it. 

In a letter to MPs sent on Christmas Eve, Sir Lindsay said: ‘I would strongly urge you not to physically come to Westminster to participate in any business unless absolutely necessary due to the current severe public health situation.’

Hundreds of MPs are expected to take part remotely when they are asked to give the green light to the agreement.      

An estimated three quarters of Tory MPs now have proxy voting arrangements in place as well as approximately eight in 10 Labour MPs. 

However, members of the 70-strong European Research Group of Tory MPs want to be physically present for the debate and vote.  

Current parliament Covid rules dictate that a maximum of 50 people are allowed in the Commons at any one time. 

Members of the ERG fear they could therefore be physically excluded from the debate and that they could be ‘forced to participate from their living rooms’. 

An ERG source told The Telegraph: ‘On what would be an historic occasion, it would be disappointing if MPs cannot participate in situ.’

Should the 50 person limit be reached it is thought MPs will be told to take part virtually from their office in Parliament or to watch on from the gallery above the chamber where they would be unable to make a contribution.

The ERG is yet to deliver its formal verdict on the PM’s trade accord with a so-called ‘Star Chamber’ of legal experts led by Tory MP Sir Bill Cash currently poring over the detail. 

The group is expected to announce its assessment of the 1,246 page deal tomorrow but it is thought it is leaning towards supporting it. 

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