Emergency coronavirus rules will continue for another six months despite a rebellion by two dozen Conservative MPs seeking a quicker easing of lockdown restrictions.
The Commons vote to extend the Coronavirus Act 2020 was passed by 484 to 76, with 25 Conservatives voting against the government, a reasonably significant rebellion if below some predictions.
The Liberal Democrats also opposed the extension, as did the DUP and 21 Labour MPs, who defied party instructions to support the measure.
While the government’s 80-seat Commons majority, added to Labour’s support for the measures, meant a win was never in doubt, Boris Johnson and his ministers will have noted the scale and variety of objections from backbenchers.
MPs opted to pass without a vote regulations connected to the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, which were considered in the same debate but treated as a separate matter for voting.
Matt Hancock prompted alarm among some Tory backbenchers by refusing to rule out the need for a further extension in six months’ time. He said his preference would be not to extend: “But given the last year, I think a prediction would be hasty.”
Mark Harper, the former chief whip who now leads the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Tory MPs who are seeking a more rapid route out of lockdown, intervened in the health secretary’s speech to say such comments were “why so many of us are worried”.
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