Tory rebels condemn lockdown law extension that risks 'normalising extreme policy'

25 March 2021, 19:48 | Updated: 25 March 2021, 20:32

From left to right: Sir Graham Brady, Mark Harper and Steve Baker voted against the government
From left to right: Sir Graham Brady, Mark Harper and Steve Baker voted against the government. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

Coronavirus lockdown laws have been extended for another six months, prompting an outcry from several leading Tory MPs.

The majority of MPs voted in favour of the six-month extension, as the vote to extend the Coronavirus Act passed by 484 to 76, a 408 majority.

Some 35 Conservatives, 21 Labour MPs and 10 Liberal Democrats were among those who voted against extending coronavirus laws, the Commons division list shows.

Following the vote, several Tory MPs took to Twitter to share their dismay at the outcome.

Sir Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham & Sale West, said the UK risks "normalising extreme policy" by passing this extension.

He wrote: "Today I voted against the extension of emergency powers under the Coronavirus Act until October. A year on we now risk normalising extreme policy responses and an attitude that our fundamental liberties exist for authorities to either grant or withhold."

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative MP for Chingford & Woodford Green, told LBC why he chose not to support the government's extension to the Coronavirus Act - although he did not vote against them.

The ex-Conservative leader said he thinks six months is "excessive" and added the Government has "not yet produced a single reason why they need to get to October".

He said, "what you want and what you need are two different things", adding "you do not need to have the powers extended to October".

Sir Iain said he recognised a need to extend the powers for two months or so, hence his decision not to vote against the bill.

Desmond Swayne, Conservative MP for New Forest West, shared a video and hit out at government for seeking "to retain powers to control aspects of our lives and implement a punishment regime for disobedience".

Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative MP for South Thanet, shared that he believes the six month extension goes beyond the "already excessively extended" roadmap to June 21 2021.

Stephen McPartland MP for Stevenage dubbed it "unnecessary and disproportionate" while John Redwoord tweeted this morning: "Parliament can and should relax more of the restrictions and save more livelihoods. The vaccine success gives us the opening to restore more jobs and businesses."

David Warburton, Conservative MP for Somerton & Frome, also made clear he had voted against the bill.

The Conservative MPs were joined by several Labour colleagues who also shared their reservations about the extension.

A further 21 Labour MPs and 10 Liberal Democrats were among those who voted against extending coronavirus laws, the Commons division list shows.

Former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, shared a video and wrote: "The Tories can't be trusted with our civil liberties, and are still not taking the action needed for public health, jobs and livelihoods."

Mr Corbyn was joined by Labour MP for Coventry South, Zarah Sultana. She wrote: "Today I voted against the renewal of the Coronavirus Act.

"We need an approach that protects everyone, leaving no-one behind and safeguarding our liberties. None of us are safe until we are all safe."

Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields, also shared concerns over what she dubbed the "disproportionate and draconian" extension.

Ministers consider the extension of restrictions as a necessary part of Boris Johnson's roadmap out of England's lockdown, despite the prime minister previously saying it was "irreversible".

Mr Johnson had said he wants the limits to be removed "once and for all" and to avoid once again plunging the country back into social distancing measures.