Jacob Rees-Mogg ridiculed for saying MPs should return to parliament to 'set an example' to the rest of the county

Greg Evans
Wednesday 13 May 2020 07:30
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Picture:(TOBY MELVILLE/Reuters)

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been criticised after saying that MPs should return to the Commons "set an example" to the rest of the country.

The leader of the House of Commons made the comments on the day that MPs cast votes virtually from their own homes rather than in parliament.

However, Rees-Mogg believes this remote voting system will be short-lived and will likely come to an end next Wednesday when MPs break for Whitsun.

Due to social distancing rules on 50 MPs can appear in the House of Commons at any one time but by working from home, Rees-Mogg believed that it stunted the "cut and thrust" of live debates.

As a solution, he said that as the government had asked those who cannot do their job at home to return to work, that MPs should do the same and "set an example."

It is clear that soon Parliament must set an example of how we move back gradually to a fully-functioning country again. Our constituents would expect nothing less.

So while we must move in step with public health guidance, it is vital that when we are asking other people to work and go to their places of work if they cannot do so from home we should not be the ones who are exempt from that. Indeed, we should be leading by example.

After being questioned on this by Labour's Chris Elmore, Rees-Mogg said that the decision for MPs to return would be "based on advice from Public Health England, and will maintain social distancing."

How Rees-Mogg envisions this working while still observing social distancing rules is a little perplexing as the House of Commons is only so big.

Following his announcement, a Labour spokesperson said that it contradicted the government's own advice on working safely during the pandemic.

The successful hybrid virtual system flies in the face of the government's own public health advice and its message to work from home where possible.

The priority must be protecting the health and well-being of all those who work in parliament. Ministers must publish the public health advice as a matter of urgency.

Rees-Mogg can draw criticism upon himself at the best of times but this comment saw him berated for negating the advice that had already been laid out by the government.

At the time of writing the UK has the second-highest coronavirus related death toll in the world, with more than 32,000 people losing their lives to the disease.

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