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Tue, 27 October 2020

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The Threats Of Tory Rebellions Over The Rule of Six And The 10pm Pub Curfew Have Collapsed

The Threats Of Tory Rebellions Over The Rule of Six And The 10pm Pub Curfew Have Collapsed
3 min read

Tory rebellions over the government's rule of six and 10pm pub curfew rules have collapsed after backbenchers dubbed it a "lost cause".

Dozens of Conservative MPs were expected to rebel against the government on a vote to extend the 10pm curfew, which is set to be tabled next week.

A far smaller number of Tories were set to vote against the government or abstain on their statutory instrument on the rule of six measure tonight [Tuesday October 6].

Labour leader Keir Starmer's insistence in backing the government on all of its Covid-19 measures so far, and Johnson's 80 seat majority, has meant Tories now feel that their rebellions have little genuine impact on changing government policy.  

One Tory backbencher and a strong critic of Covid-19 rules said: "Undoubtedly there will be an autumn showdown in Parliament at some point but I don't think there's any point in me going balls to the wall on a 10pm curfew unless the opposition come and help."

They said they will now vote with the government.

Another backbencher who was planning on rebelling said the momentum this week was now over, and the upcoming votes a "lost cause".

Tomorrow, MPs are also due to vote on giving retrospective approval for the local lockdown measures in the North of England.

Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, led the effort to get Tory colleagues to vote against further coronavirus restrictions, but told PoliticsHome they are now relying on the party to function properly and that channels of communication with ministers remain open. 

He said: "There is now a reliance on the Conservative Party to function as it should. That decisions are taken in a collegiate way, that there's transparency about decisions and that the decisions made are good ones and advance approval for measures before they come into effect." 

He said ministers had listened to their concerns so far and he believed communication from the govenrment on the restrictive decisions being made will improve.

One Tory backbencher told PoliticsHome: "No rebellion can suceed unless you get Labour on board. All of this now is about what Starmer is going to do, and he will always defer to the medics and will always be risk averse."

One of those who has argued repeatedly against the 10pm closure is Sir Desmond Swayne.

The New Forest MP told Matt Hancock in the Commons last week the curfew was "unfair" in areas with low infection rates, and that losing an hour of business prevents restaurants from having a second sitting and pubs from being profitable.

But asked if he was annoyed at the government for delaying giving MPs a vote until next week, he told PoliticsHome it was "no big deal".

He added: "Perhaps by then they’ll have seen reason and seek to abandon or amend it."

Up to 40 MPs were rumoured to be planning on voting against, or abstaining, on the extension to the 10pm curfew. Their number is now expected to be less, with the majority abstentions rather than a direct vote against. 

The Commons vote tonight on the rule of six was expected to gain a handful of abstentions from Tories but not enough to seriously concern the Prime Minister. 

Read the most recent article written by Kate Proctor and Alain Tolhurst - Labour Will Force A Commons Vote Over A "Fair Deal" For Areas Facing The Harshest Lockdown Restrictions

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