Tory rebels continue bid for vote on coronavirus powers despite No 10 offer

In a bid to appease the backbenches, Downing Street has offered MPs a chance to debate and vote on the ‘rule of six’ next month.

Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers
Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers

Tory backbenchers will continue to push the Government to give MPs a chance to debate and vote on coronavirus measures before they come into force despite Downing Street’s attempt to head off a rebellion.

Conservative Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, has tabled an amendment to the Coronavirus Act trying to force greater parliamentary scrutiny of the regulations.

He has won the backing of more than 40 of his Tory colleagues, and with Labour likely to support the measure, Boris Johnson could be defeated in the Commons in the six-month review of the powers, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

In a bid to appease the backbenches, Downing Street has offered MPs a chance to debate and vote on the ‘rule of six’ next month.

However, Sir Graham said the Government’s olive branch was “not relevant” to his bid for further scrutiny.

He told the PA news agency: “There would always have been a retrospective opportunity for a vote on the rule of six.

“What I am pressing for is debates and votes before measures come into force.”

The ‘rule of six’ vote is scheduled for October 6.

Sir Graham’s amendment would need to be selected by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on Wednesday to stand a chance of being successful.

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. A Labour source said the party was “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.”

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