Tory MP blasted for branding MPs who want to keep virtual Parliament going ‘work-shy’ and ‘lazy’
Tory MP Henry Smith was heavily criticised for his comments (Parliament.UK)
The row over the ending of the virtual Parliament turned ugly on Thursday as a Tory MP accused opposition parties of being “work-shy” for wanting it to continue.
Henry Smith took aim at “socialist and nationalist MPs”, and labelled them the “lazy left” for trying to force the Government into keeping the hybrid proceedings going.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner called the member for Crawley's comments "nonsense" while others said it was “insulting”, and the SNP said it showed “seething contempt for public safety”.
It comes after the Government vowed to push through with an end to MPs entering debates via video-link and voting on legislation remotely from next month.
The House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the measures were only ever meant to be temporary while strict social distancing restrictions were in place during the pandemic.
And he said, with an easing of England's lockdown rules from June 1, the changes should apply to parliamentarians too when they return from the Whitsun recess the day after.
One of his own Tory colleagues - the former minister Robert Halfon - said some sick or shielding members must continue stay at home and will be “effectively euthanised from the Commons”.
But the Cabinet minister has accused Labour of opposing the return of MPs to Westminster in order to “stymie” the Government.
On Thursday Mr Smith tweeted: “Not that I should be surprised by the lazy left but interesting how work-shy socialist and nationalist MPs tried to keep the remote Parliament going beyond 2 June.”
Labour MP Debbie Abrahams replied: “This is insulting Henry and belittles you.”
Meanwhile her colleague Marie Rimmer said his comments were “a load of rubbish”, and shadow domestic violence and safeguarding minister Jess Phillips said: “Henry this is an appalling thing to say.”
Ms Rayner said: “We have all really tried to keep cross party working on coronavirus calling fellow MPs ‘lazy’ and ‘work-shy’ is poor Henry."
She added: "Many colleagues from all sides of the House and their staff have been working very hard for our constituents during the lockdown. No need for this nonsense.”
The SNP’s Pete Wishart tweeted: “Here is the view of the Conservative backbench. Objecting to 650 people from across the UK congregating in a confined dilapidated building in London during a pandemic is 'laziness'.
“The seething contempt for public safety obvious for everyone to see.”