Plans to scrap remote voting for MPs risk confusion and chaos at Westminster

Josiah Mortimer, former Head of Communications

Posted on the 1st June 2020

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has published plans to force MPs to vote in person, ahead of their return to Westminster on Tuesday.

It brings to an end remote voting, which saw division times cut from nearly an hour to just 15 minutes online – allowing all MPs, including those shielding, to contribute from home.

Under the proposals from the Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg – set to be voted on tomorrow – MPs will have to be on the Parliamentary estate in order to vote. Social distancing will be maintained in divisions, meaning they are likely to take far longer than through remote voting.

If this goes ahead, it will be beyond a farce. It could be actively undemocratic.

There is currently a safe, secure and speedy option for voting available: remote/digital voting. MPs have already used it, and it has worked well – cutting voting times down from a socially-distanced queue of an hour, to just 15 minutes. One or two MPs took a while to get used to it – but no progress comes without a few bumps.

Since some MPs are shielding and are not safe to travel in person, there’s a real a real threat for democratic representation and political equality if remote voting is scrapped entirely. The government has said there will be arrangements in place for shielding MPs – but have provided no detail so far.

The Speaker has agreed to a recall of the House at 11:30am on Tuesday 2 June to discuss the government’s motion. There is still time to make them safe and effective.

Last night former Cabinet Minister Theresa Villiers suggested on the BBC that digital voting should continue – and she’s right.

Why move from 15-minute safe and secure voting, to hour-long lobby division queues, while the pandemic still rages?

It’s time for all parties to work together to find a consensus on this – one that addresses the concerns about voters being left voiceless through MPs being unable to attend

If the government does not propose an effective and safe alternative to digital voting, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle must consider stepping in to ensure shielding MPs are not sidelined, and voters are not made voiceless.

Write to your MP calling on them to vote to maintain remote voting on Tuesday.

Read more posts...