U.K. Speaker Thwarts Covid Rebels But Slams Johnson for Contempt

The speaker of the House of Commons blocked a bid by rebels in Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party to curb the U.K.’s emergency coronavirus powers but attacked the prime minister over his failure to consult Parliament.

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said the government’s attitude to parliament is “totally unsatisfactory” as he ruled an amendment to the Coronavirus Act proposed by Tory MP Graham Brady, which was backed by dozens of other Conservatives, cannot be put to a vote on Wednesday.

Read more: Rebel Tories Warn Boris Johnson Faces Defeat on Virus Powers

“The way in which the government has exercised its powers to make secondary legislation during this crisis has been totally unsatisfactory,” Hoyle said in the Commons on Wednesday. “I now look to the government to rebuild trust with this house and not treat it with the contempt that it has shown.”

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Though the decision is helpful to the prime minister in that it removes a vehicle for the rebels to inflict a damaging defeat on the government, it does not mean that the problem has gone away. The emergency legislation, which the government has said is necessary to allow it to act quickly to contain the pandemic, is still due to go to a vote in its original form later on Wednesday.

The rebel Tory MPs are still hopeful of forcing a compromise with ministers on allowing Parliament to debate and vote on new virus restrictions before they become law.

Hoyle said that after taking advice, he had concluded that “any amendment to the motion before the House risks giving rise to uncertainty about the decision the House has taken”.

“Lack of clarity in such important matters risks undermining the rule of law,” he said. “I now look to the government to rebuild trust with this House and not treat it with the contempt that it has shown.”

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