PM spared revolt as Speaker criticises ‘disregard’ for Parliament

Boris Johnson's Government has been heavily criticised by the Speaker for showing a "total disregard" for Parliament but was spared a Commons revolt over coronavirus laws.

The Prime Minister was facing a rebellion on Wednesday from more than 50 Conservative backbench MPs who are angry that the Government has imposed rules without Parliament's scrutiny.

They were set to back an amendment from Sir Graham Brady, the influential chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories, which would have handed Mr Johnson a defeat with opposition support.

But Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he was unable to select any amendments ahead of a vote on the renewal of the powers to avoid "undermining the rule of law".

Sir Lindsay told MPs that the Government had used its powers to make legislation under the Coronavirus Act during the crisis in a "totally unsatisfactory" manner.

"All too often, important statutory instruments have been published a matter of hours before they come into force and some explanations as to why important measures have come into effect before they can be laid before this House has been unconvincing and shows a total disregard for the House," he said.

But he said that the advice he had received was that any amendment "risks giving rise to uncertainty" about the decision of the House because only 90 minutes were available for the debate.

"This then risks decisions that are rightly the responsibility of Parliament ultimately being determined by the courts," he added.

Ministers have been working to quell the backbench revolt in discussions with some of the leaders.

One of the rebels, Steve Baker, said Sir Lindsay had made an "entirely reasonable" decision but continued to hope for a compromise from the Government.

"I hope and expect to reach a good compromise with the Government shortly so we can advance as one team," Mr Baker said.