Sick Labour MP forced to attend Brexit vote in wheelchair hits out at Tory whips

Posted On: 
21st June 2018

An ill Labour MP has reacted angrily after being forced by Government whips to attend the House of Commons for a crunch Brexit vote.

Labour's Naz Shah said the decision by Conservative party managers was 'very undignified and very invasive'
Credit: 
PA

Nervous Conservative party managers shelved a longstanding Parliamentary convention that allows sick MPs to be "nodded through", meaning they do not need to be physically in the division lobbies to vote.

Critics said the move was designed to put off those MPs from voting at all, thereby increasing the chances of a Government win.

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Bradford West MP Naz Shah - who was hospitalised last week with severe nerve pain following a hit-and-run incident several years ago - was forced to attend the vote in a wheelchair while carrying a sick bucket.

She told the Guardian: "I was in my pyjamas. It felt personally very undignified and very invasive. It was embarrassing.

"I thought I’d just be able to stay in the back of the car, where I’d made a bed for myself, and be counted there, but the Tories wouldn’t have it.

"By making me go in to vote like that, they stripped me of my dignity."

Other Labour MPs who had to attend the vote - which the Government won after key Conservative rebels backed down - included North west Durham MP Laura Pidcock, who is eight months pregnant.

Ms Shah said her Labour colleague had been "in agony", and blasted the voting system as "just so archaic".

"No other employer would force you to come in to work in that condition," she said.

"As MPs we are supposed to be setting the tone for the country, setting an example. We make the laws on equality and yet we don’t apply them to our own house."

Labour grandee Lord Prescott yesterday slammed the practice, branding it "absolutely bloody shameful", while another Labour source told PoliticsHome: "It is shameful and very shortsighted."

BREXIT BILL PASSES

The day of high drama in the Commons followed months of back-and-forth between MPs and the House of Lords over the Government's EU Withdrawal Bill.

The Lords last night passed the flagship legislation - which transfers all existing EU laws onto the UK statute book - after Theresa May saw off a potential rebellion by Tory MPs.

Leading Brexit rebel Dominic Grieve agreed to back the government after Brexit Secretary David Davis tabled a last-minute written statement pledging a meaningful vote for MPs if the UK looks set to leave the European Union without a deal.

After the Commons voted the amendment down, the House of Lords then accepted the Government's own amendment, meaning the Bill will now be rubber-stamped and get Royal Assent.

Mrs May hailed the move as "delivering on the will of the British people".

"Over the next few weeks we will publish more details of our proposed future relationship with the EU in a White Paper, and will bring the Trade and Customs Bills back to the House of Commons," she said.

"But today has been an important step in delivering the Brexit people voted for, a Brexit that gives Britain a brighter future, a Britain in control of its money, laws, and borders."