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Christmas break for MPs is to be extended by almost a week – after they worked for one extra day

Christmas break for MPs is to be extended by almost a week – after they worked for one extra day to vote on the Brexit trade deal

  • Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg set to announce delay to parliament return
  • The Christmas break for MPs is to be extended by six days until January 11
  • MPs will have had three weeks away from Westminster in total over Christmas

The Christmas break for MPs is to be extended by almost a week after they were called back for one day to vote on the Brexit trade deal.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is set to announce tomorrow that they will not return until January 11.

This is six days later than when they were originally due to go back and will give them three weeks away from Westminster in total.

Both Houses of Parliament have been recalled, with the Government hoping the Future Relationship Bill will be passed by the Commons and Lords and receive Royal Assent in a single day. But Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has asked MPs to stay at home rather than travel to London.

A quiet Westminster bridge by the Houses of Parliament in London, Sunday, December 27

In a letter sent on Christmas Eve, he wrote: ‘I would strongly urge you not to physically come to Westminster to participate in any business unless absolutely necessary due to the current severe public health situation.’

Hundreds of the 650 MPs are expected to vote by proxy. Figures this month showed that almost three-quarters of the 364 Conservatives had nominated deputy chief whip Stuart Andrew to vote on their behalf in decisions.

And 140 of Labour’s 200 MPs had chosen party whip Chris Elmore as their proxy, with a further 16 backbenchers leaving Jeremy Corbyn ally Bell Ribeiro-Addy in charge of their votes.

Most MPs taking part in the debate, scheduled to begin at 9.30am, are expected to do so from home on Zoom.

Under coronavirus restrictions, only 50 people are permitted to be in the Commons chamber at any one time.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his office in Number 10 briefing members of the Cabinet on the news of a Brexit deal, December 23

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his office in Number 10 briefing members of the Cabinet on the news of a Brexit deal, December 23

When MPs broke up for Christmas on December 17, Mr Rees-Mogg said they would return on January 5.

A spokesman for the Commons Leader declined to comment, saying any changes would be set out when Parliament sits tomorrow. The House of Commons said recess dates were set by the Government.

Commons sources last night said that MPs were being given the additional days to compensate for having their holidays disrupted by the special one-day sitting.

But others claimed that the return to Parliament was being delayed to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

One rebel Tory thought the real reason for the extension was because the Government wanted to avoid scrutiny over lockdown restrictions.

‘We are being told different things depending on what they think we’ll believe, which is none of it,’ they said.

The Tory rebel added: ‘The long and the short of it is that we should be back, especially when we’re telling schools to get on with it.’

Some MPs last night voiced anger over the plans.

Liberal Democrat Layla Moran said: ‘This is so wrong and ridiculous given we have capacity for virtual participation and voting. I’ll be working regardless but it’s not like there isn’t work to be done in Parliament.’ 

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