MPs must share decision making burden on draconian coronavirus laws – Tory rebel

MPs must share in the "dreadful burden" of decision making on "draconian" coronavirus restrictions, a Tory rebel leading calls for Parliament to be given a vote before new laws come into force has said.

Former minister Steve Baker is among at least 40 Conservative backbenchers who are pushing the Government to give the Commons a chance to debate and vote on Covid-19 rules before they are enacted.

Tory chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady has tabled an amendment to the Coronavirus Act – which will be reviewed on Wednesday – trying to force greater parliamentary scrutiny of the regulations.

In a bid to appease the backbenches Downing Street offered MPs a chance to debate and vote on the "rule of six" next month, but the rebels are continuing to press for debates and votes before all measures come into force.

Labour is expected to support the amendment, meaning that if 40 Tories rebel, Mr Johnson could lose the vote despite his 80-strong Commons majority.

Mr Baker told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "MPs should be sharing in the dreadful burden of decision in these circumstances and not just retrospectively being asked to approve what the Government has done...

"How do people think that liberty dies? It dies like this with Government exercising draconian powers, without parliamentary scrutiny in advance, undermining the rule of law by having a shifting blanket of rules that no-one can understand."

He said there were "plenty" of MPs who would back the amendment, and that he thought it would be selected by the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Conservative former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Damian Green, who was effectively deputy PM under Theresa May, liaison committee chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin, Sir Bob Neill and former Brexit secretary David Davis are among those to back the bid.

DUP MPs and the chairman of the Labour parliamentary party John Cryer are also supporting the move. Labour has said the party is "sympathetic" to the amendment.

A senior Government source said: "The Government is doing everything it reasonably can to engage Parliament in the Covid process, whilst also ensuring it has the ability to react swiftly in order to suppress the virus.

"This week the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Health Secretary all made statements to the House of Commons and took questions. MPs have also received briefings from Government scientists on the data which is informing our decisions.

"Next week there will be a Covid debate in Government time which the Health Secretary will open. And he will also be in the House on Wednesday to debate the renewal of the Coronavirus Act.

"We will also be bringing the Statutory Instrument on the 'rule of six' to the floor of the House so that MPs can vote on it.

"We understand MPs and their constituents are deeply concerned about the virus and that is why we are seeking to involve them in the process as much as possible."