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Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended plans to require photographic identification to vote — by comparing it to a ban on MPs wearing hats.
The government is set to require people to produce proof of their identity when voting in elections.
It has been attacked by MPs on all sides amid fears it will disproportionately stop already marginalised groups from voting.
Government figures show while 76% of white people have driving licence, only 53% of Black people do.
Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Tory leader, has condemned it as a “total b*****ks” idea.
It has also been compared to voter suppression tactics used by the Republican Party in the United States.
Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, Labour’s shadow leader of the House, Thangam Debbonaire, described it as an “attack on democracy”.
She asked Rees-Mogg: “Will the Leader of the House please explain to his own constituents why they can’t vote by giving their name to a clerk and being counted by a teller when this is how their own MP votes in this place — in normal times at least.”
Rees-Mogg said it was “important that elections are fair and proper”.
He added: “We don’t have to prove who we are when voting in the division lobbies in normal circumstances.
“But she’s forgetting that we’re not allowed to wear overcoats in the division lobbies just in case we send somebody through to vote in our place or indeed – as Mr Speaker helpfully says – hats.
“So therefore there are requirements in this place to prevent impersonation.”
Speaking to ITV, Davidson said of the voter ID plan: “I think it’s total b*****ks. I think it’s trying to give a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, and that makes it politics as performance.
“And I think that given where we are and the year we’ve had, we’ve got real problems to solve in this country, and the idea that this is some sort of legislative priority I think is for the birds.”
Mat Hancock, he health secretary, also earlier this week admitted there were only six cases of ballot fraud at the 2019 election. But he said this was “six cases too many”.
The Electoral Commission has said there was just one conviction in 2017 of “personation” a polling station. There were none in 2018.