MPs are set to continue voting in the Commons by forming lengthy socially-distanced queues around parliament – dubbed the “Mogg conga” – after an amendment to keep virtual arrangements failed.
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg decided to end the hybrid Commons that was put in place for the coronavirus crisis, allowing MPs to vote remotely and participate in debates via Zoom.
Labour’s amendment to reject this proposal was not selected by the Speaker, while the procedures committee amendment was selected but was defeated with 185 voting in favour and 242 against.
The division on the amendment took around 45 minutes to complete, as MPs were forced to queue with two-metre distances between one another, in a line that snaked all around the parliamentary estate.
Rees-Mogg made a partial concession today that will allow MPs who are ‘shielding’ as a result of medical conditions to participate in parliamentary scrutiny, such as questions, urgent questions and statements.
But MPs not able to attend parliament in person this afternoon did not get a vote on the amendment or main motion. Over 200 MPs did not vote in the proceedings described as “not right or just or fair to all Members” by Labour.
Rees-Mogg argued in the chamber that with a hybrid Commons in place “the House has not worked effectively on behalf of constituents”. Yet he also made the case that shielding MPs would have to represent constituents in ways other than voting.
The Commons leader said he did not agree with continued digital voting because “some people tweeted they were doing it whilst going for a walk”. He added: “Voting while enjoying a sunny walk, or whilst watching television, does democracy a disservice.”
Responding to Rees-Mogg at the despatch box this afternoon, shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz said: “Members rightly demand parity. This is staggeringly arrogant from the Leader of the House.”
A number of MPs raised concerns that, despite the length of the queue and voting process, social distancing was not being followed and commented that the situation was “dangerous” and a “farce”.
Rees-Mogg’s bizarre airport style queue system around parliamentary estate for voting later – when MPs could vote perfectly well by clicking a button on our computers. (We’ve done it before and it works fine) pic.twitter.com/OmR1UfQIju
— Jeff Smith (@JeffSmithetc) June 2, 2020
The utter madness of this charade is that as well as putting lives at risk, it may result in a democratic process which excludes 100s of MPs shielding having the ability to participate.
I hope Parliament brings Mogg to his senses and halts his batshit ideology. pic.twitter.com/amli9DMERL
— lan Byrne MP (@IanByrneMP) June 2, 2020
Social distancing for the vote going spectacularly badly, what a joke. pic.twitter.com/PzqsZAzQ0v
— Charlotte Nichols (@charlotte2153) June 2, 2020
We’re starting to run out of space on the grassy knoll whilst queueing for 2nd vote. Exasperated security man just asked if we ‘could bunch up’
“Errr, No not really.” pic.twitter.com/RyqgUMvTjn
— Toby Perkins (@tobyperkinsmp) June 2, 2020
Mile long congo of MPs queuing to vote, because Govt can’t do sensible thing and vote online.
This inept Govt, having made UK a classic case study of how not to deal with a pandemic, has now completely lost its marbles and made us an international laughing stock. pic.twitter.com/VsAZdHD5GY
— Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (@TanDhesi) June 2, 2020
Absolutely ludicrous we’re queued all the way back in Portcullis House. MPs still coming! Real difficulty in social distancing. The man himself thinks it’s hilarious pic.twitter.com/BduuYqlzKy
— Alex Sobel says stay home (@alexsobel) June 2, 2020
Queuing up outside Westminster to vote against having to vote in Westminster pic.twitter.com/pY8F0zHkNJ
— Louise Haigh (@LouHaigh) June 2, 2020
Voting. In the 21st century. Yep. pic.twitter.com/jIoHKABjvG
— Liz Kendall (@leicesterliz) June 2, 2020
This is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/M77e1kYlm0
— Luke Pollard MP (@LukePollard) June 2, 2020
This queue stretches out of the Palace, across a courtyard and into another building.
— Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP🌹🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@lloyd_rm) June 2, 2020