Little did This Writer know, when I reported that Jacob Rees-Mogg wanted MPs to go back to work, that he was going to insist on it.
It seems that, as Leader of the House of Commons, he is determined that MPs should set an example for others who are being asked to go back to their jobs by Boris Johnson:
The best example MPs can set is to stay at home. https://t.co/VkOtgZ8sYy
— Carol Monaghan MP 🏴 (@CMonaghanSNP) May 13, 2020
It’s certainly true that some MPs aren’t too keen:
Valerie Vaz, Labour’s shadow leader of the House of Commons, said she was “alarmed” by Mr Rees-Mogg’s announcement and asked why parliament should “contradict” the government’s own health advice by returning to “business as usual” in June.
The SNP’s Tommy Sheppard said it was a “fantasy” to believe that physical sittings could resume in June without special procedures being in place.
He asked what should happen to MPs considered among those most vulnerable to coronavirus, or Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs, whose devolved governments have not yet eased any lockdown measures.
Rees-Mogg, of course, instantly seized on this as a way to run down the opposition:
He said: “How can we say to our schoolchildren, ‘you’re safe going back’, some of them, but that we’re not, that we’re going to hide away whilst schoolchildren are going back – is that the right message to give to our constituents?”
MPs have every right to be afraid of returning to Parliament, if they can’t be assured that social distancing rules will be maintained, or that they won’t be exposed to a risk of catching the coronavirus from other people working on the Parliamentary estate.
And of course those living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have those countries’ “no movement” rules to consider; they aren’t actually allowed out to attend Parliament.
Clive Lewis is right about the motivation for Rees-Mogg’s decision:
Tory hawks know unless MPs go back they’ll have more difficulty making the case for the public too. This premature end to lockdown is vague, dangerous and has no scientific basis. Tory ideology has trumped public safety. https://t.co/SK1WtOUpjG
— Clive Lewis MP (@labourlewis) May 12, 2020
Yes – but will it trump Tory self-interest?
We’ll find out when we see how many of them turn up after the Whitsun break.
It’s a “win-win” scenario for everybody who isn’t a Tory, of course.
If they don’t turn up, they’re cowards who are afraid to support their own government’s policy; if they do, they’ll probably catch Covid-19 and spend some time in hospital.
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