Throughout the uncertain days of the pandemic, a few things have remained constant: Devi Sridhar will tweet too much, Sadiq Khan will flip-flop a lot and MPs will, once again, vote to extend the draconian provisions of the Coronavirus Act.
The emergency legislation was rammed through Parliament in March 2020 to give the government emergency powers to limit or suspend public gatherings, detain individuals suspected to be infected by Covid and to intervene or relax regulations across a swathe of sectors to limit transmission of the disease. Not for nothing did Steve Baker warn of a 'dystopian society'.
Having been renewed in March this year for a further six months, MPs yesterday voted again for another six month extension. However unlike the previous parliamentary division – which saw MPs split by 484 to 76 to extend the legislation – this one did not even go to a vote. Instead Deputy Speaker Rosie Winterton allowed a simple voice vote in which she asked the House to approve the extension and which was met with a chorus of 'Ayes' followed by various 'Noes.' The loud cry of protest from Sir Desmond Swayne prompted Winterton to gently rebuke the Covid Recovery Group stalwart:
“Madam Deputy Speaker: I am afraid I fear the mood of the House is not to have a vote. The right hon. Gentleman would have to rustle up a few more people to really get the sense that we required a vote—Sir Desmond Swayne: The just shall live by faith.
“Madam Deputy Speaker: I am sure they will. The Ayes have it.
Steerpike wonders how many more times such 'emergency' legislation can be extended before it becomes routine.