Steerpike

Could the Commons have Covid passes?

Could the Commons have Covid passes?
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Today is the big day. MPs are set to vote on the 'Plan B' package of restrictions by 6:30 p.m tonight with many Tories publicly denouncing the winter restrictions as a step too far in a society protected by what Boris Johnson once called the ‘huge wall of immunity’ from vaccines. 

The big question of course is how big the rebellion will be – 82 Tories are currently named on the Spectator's list of self-declared rebels. If all were to vote against, it would be the biggest rebellion of Johnson's premiership, comfortably beating the 55 who voted against a new Covid-19 tier system for England last December, with another 16 abstentions. Labour votes will be necessary to pass Plan B, which more than one in three Tory backbenchers have criticised.

Under the restrictions, if you want to attend large, potentially crowded venues, you will either need to show a negative lateral flow test or that you are double-vaccinated on the NHS app. These include indoor events with 500 or more attendees expected to stand or move around, according to the government website. So as our 648 MPs shuffle through the voting lobbies today, they might want to consider whether such measures will apply to their very own House of Commons. 

For the authorities have refused to deny to Steerpike that they could introduce them there too, if government guidance changes. A UK Parliament spokesperson told Mr S: 'We continue to take the necessary steps to protect all of those in Parliament. All measures taken are in line with national guidance and advice from the UKHSA to ensure that the Parliamentary estate remains Covid-safe.'

This refusal to rule out Covid passes raises a number of interesting questions: namely, what would happen if MPs refused to go along with them? As one backbench sage points out to Mr S, there is no means of barring an MP from the House of Commons accept by a vote of the House. Were one of the Covid Research Group to make a public refusal, for instance, it could lead to quite the unedifying stand-off outside Parliament.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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