Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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These rebel MPs deserve our praise


These are the 16 MPs who voted against the third national English lockdown, plus two tellers:


Sir Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West)

Philip Davies (Shipley)

Richard Drax (South Dorset)

Karl McCartney (Lincoln)

Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)

Esther McVey (Tatton)

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Andrew Rosindell (Romford)

Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West)

Sir Robert Syms (Poole)

Sir Charles Walker (Broxbourne)

David Warburton (Somerton and Frome)

Democratic Unionist Party

Paul Girvan (South Antrim)

Carla Lockhart (Upper Bann)

Ian Paisley (Democratic Unionist Party, North Antrim)

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim)


Sir Christopher Chope (Con, Christchurch)

Chris Green (Con, Bolton West)

Notable contributions to the debate came from Sir Charles Walker and Sir Desmond Swayne.

Sir Charles Walker said

‘I cannot support this legislation. I cannot support criminalising a parent for seeing their child in the park over the coming months. It is not within my DNA to do that.

‘Of course I will follow the law and respect the law. We have the argument in the House of Commons; the House divides and one is on the winning side or the losing side. I will be on the losing side, no doubt, but I do not wear the fact that I will support the law with great virtue, because it is easy for me to comply with the law. It is easy for most people in this House to comply with the law. We are comfortably off, we live in nice houses, we have gardens and outdoor spaces, and we have access to family. The same is true of the journalists who fill our TV screens every night with their wisdom and wit about how people should comply with these regulations, and they sneer at those who cannot. But the next three months are going to be really hard for a lot of people – people who do not have my advantages of a monthly salary and a monthly pension payment. They will be worrying about their job, their future, their mental health and their family relationships, because they will miss people terribly. They will be living in small environs that apparently they can leave only to exercise once a day. Sadly, some of those people will break. It will be too much for them. That is when we in this place – and the journalists up there in the Gallery with all their privileges – instead of sneering and dismissing them and calling them ‘covidiots’ should show some compassion and understanding. We should wear our advantages and privileges with great humility.

‘I do not want to hear from another constituent who is having a good lockdown. I am really pleased that they are, but my voice is for those who are not: for those of my friends, neighbours and constituents who are struggling day in, day out, whose mental health is not in a healthy state, but has deteriorated, and who are wondering how, in the next few months, in the middle of winter, they will cope.

‘I ask colleagues and people out there who are so fortunate to show some compassion and understanding for those who are not so fortunate.

Sir Desmond Swayne said

‘This is a situation of state capture. The Government are completely in thrall to a lobby driving a policy that has manifestly failed – it has failed, or we would not be here yet again. It is a complete failure, yet we go through increasing iterations of it, with ever-tighter controls and restrictions, in the hope that it might finally work. And, then, when there is a possibility of change, as a consequence of the arrival of the vaccines, the crazed lobby has already begun to signal that the social control will not be over and that some restrictions will remain; indeed, the chiefs have pointed out that they might have to be reimposed all over again next winter.

‘To those colleagues who are contemplating voting for these measures this evening, buoyed up by opinion pollsters telling them that, actually, the voters are in favour of them and, indeed, that they crave even tighter restraints on their liberty, I would point out that when the devastating economic consequences of this policy come home to roost, and we see double-dip recession and years of slow growth as firms cannot take up new opportunities because they are saddled with debt, those same voters, who were so enthusiastic, will abandon them, and those colleagues will be back to point a finger of blame – and, on that occasion at least, they will be right.’

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Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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