The buck stops tier: MPs prepare to vote on new Covid restrictions

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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MPs will vote today on whether to adopt the updated tier system for Covid restrictions. Debate will start from 12.45pm with the final showdown expected after 7pm. Keir Starmer declared last night that Labour will be abstaining. The party has no problem with the tier system itself, but does have a problem with the lack of business support for those under the strictest tiers and the still failing ‘NHS’ track and trace programme. Shadow minister Lucy Powell said this morning that Boris Johnson “still has time” to announce a “cash injection” for businesses in Tiers 2 and 3. Why won’t Labour simply oppose the measures? If Labour MPs were whipped to vote against, the new rules might not pass, which would force the government to pass them via emergency procedures. Some argue this risks the accusation that Labour is not providing ‘responsible opposition’.

Labour is not completely united in its response, however. Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck, for example, has urged the leadership to offer a free vote on the issue. She argued: “You’re not going to get the government to look at a new approach if you keep abstaining and sitting on your hands.” Meanwhile, Jon Trickett MP has written for LabourList on the publication of a new report by No Holding Back this morning and called for “uniform restrictions that treat the country as one”. But with dozens of Tory MPs reportedly planning on rebelling against the Conservative whip this evening, the focus should remain on the splits in Prime Minister’s party over the measures.

Today is World AIDS Day and Alex Norris has written for us on the hopes that we can end new HIV transmissions here in the UK. The shadow minister has highlighted a new HIV Commission report, which he says provides a “roadmap to get us there”. Elsewhere on LabourList, Labour backbencher Zarah Sultana has marked the end of Islamophobia awareness month with a call for solidarity across discriminated groups and wrote: “In uniting our struggles, we all stand taller.” And University of Manchester Rent Strike activist Ben McGowan penned a piece in which he explained that “the biggest student uprising in a decade is forming”. The Labour member highlighted the absence of Labour from the movement, arguing that “the party feels invisible at the moment” and urging it not to turn its back on students.

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