Tory MP calls colleagues 'lazy' and 'workshy' for wanting to extend virtual parliament

For the past two weeks, Parliament has been far quieter.

This is because MPs have, for the first time ever, been allowed to attend debates and cast votes remotely.

After Boris Johnson and his frontbench discovered that being a high ranking politician actually offered little in the way of protection from coronavirus, new measures were brought in to ensure MPs could follow social distancing guidance while at work.

These included being able to virtually attend sessions in the House of Commons and cast votes.

There were some minor technological snafus that meant some MPs ended up not being able to vote on important bills or voted the “wrong way”.

But now MPs will be returning physically to the Commons again after voting to end remote participation by 2 June.

There will still be a maximum of 50 people allowed in the chamber during debates but votes will once again be cast by MPs lining up either side of a narrow corridor.

Naturally, this has raised concerns about how to safely socially distance while doing so and hundreds of MPs voted against the proposal, including the majority of Labour, Lib Dem and SNP MPs.

Even 20 Tory MPs who opposed the motion abstained from the vote, despite the plan being put forward by Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg.

However, one Tory MP who voted in favour of ending remote participation has now launched a bizarre attack on those who challenged the idea.

Crawley MP Henry Smith tweeted:

Not that I should be surprised by the lazy left but interesting how work-shy socialist and nationalist MPs tried to keep the remote Parliament going beyond 2 June.

His comments, naturally led to outrage from colleagues, including Angela Rayner and Stella Creasey.

Labour MP Tracy Brabin said Smith’s account must be a “bot” and outlined the workload she and her peers were currently juggling.

Alex Sobel said, in actuality, MPs are “working harder than ever”.

Union representative Jade Azim reminded Smith that some of his colleagues were physically unable to rejoin Parliament, due to being deemed at high-risk from coronavirus.

Their number includes the likes of Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has complained of the decision and said it is “mystifying” that vulnerable MPs are not even being allowed a proxy vote.

Others have pointed out the remote parliament actually offers an opportunity for gender equality.

Writing forPolitics Home, Helen Pankhurst explained that the virtual parliament helps overcome barriers like long, unpredictable hours and lengthy periods away from home, which do not sit well with domestic responsibilities women MPs often have to juggle.

There were also salient points made about the work ethic of Smith’s own party leader.

Smith is yet to respond to the outcry.

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