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Backbench Tories plot to rein in government’s coronavirus powers in Commons showdown

The Independent logo The Independent 20/09/2020 Vincent Wood
Boris Johnson sitting at a table with a laptop and smiling at the camera © Provided by The Independent

Backbench Tory MPs are plotting to rein in the government’s ability to implement lockdown rules without parliamentary scrutiny in a Commons showdown, it has been reported.

The government is set to vote to renew the Coronavirus Bill – which gives the state its power to implement lockdown measures – in a house vote in the coming week as part of a six-month renewal built into the legislation.

However, a prominent Conservative backbencher is expected to table an amendment to the bill that will ensure the government can not add additional lockdown rules without the consent of parliament, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.

Sir Graham Brady, chair of the influential 1922 committee of backbench Tories, is expected to table the amendment forcing any government expansion of the bill to a vote in the commons.

The measure is likely to find supporters among the Conservatives, with several of the party’s MPs having raised concerns in the Commons over the implementation of lockdown measures without parliamentary oversight.

Sir Graham told the paper: “We now know that the NHS coped will with the challenge  of the virus and parliament has been sitting largely since April.

“There is now no justification for minister ruling by emergency powers without reference to normal democratic processes”.

It comes as Boris Johnson looks to deploy new measures to subdue a second outbreak of the virus in the UK, with case numbers continuing to rise after social distancing measures were eased by Westminster.

The PM is understood to be holding meetings across the weekend to discuss how to respond to the virus threat, with curfews on hospitality venues and limits on household mingling reported to be among measures under consideration.


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