MPs set to continue “Mogg conga” physical voting as amendment fails

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”.

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