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BORIS JOHNSON avoided embarrassment today after the government successfully defeated an amendment to its plans to end online voting by MPs.
The amendment, to restore remote voting in the House of Commons, was defeated with a majority of 57, meaning MPs will continue to be required to vote in Parliament in person following the end of recess today.
Ahead of the vote, the Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to all MPs to raise concerns, saying it “cannot be right” to exclude elected representatives who are unable to attend Parliament.
Voting in the Commons would “place at significant disadvantage” MPs who are shielding or self-isolating due to age, disability, health or pregnancy, as well as those who will struggle to travel to Westminster, the watchdog warned.
The voting system will see MPs forming lengthy and time-consuming queues in order to obey social-distancing rules.
During the vote, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle repeatedly encouraged MPs to “keep up” to try to decrease the length of the queue snaking out of the Commons chamber across the parliamentary estate.
Following the vote against the amendment, Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani tweeted: “How very British.
“We could vote electronically and crack on with business in Parliament or we can stand in queues.”
Tory colleague Michael Fabricant tweeted: “Anyone watching the voting live on @BBCParliament would see what an embarrassing shambles it is.”
Labour MP Rachael Maskell tweeted: “Voting is completely unsafe. This is how infections spread.”
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the changes were necessary because legislation was on a “go slow” due to constraints on committees operating, with only around a third of the usual level of legislative activity.
He told the Commons he would table a motion today which would enable MPs unable to attend Parliament on medical grounds to take part in certain proceedings.
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