York Outer MP Julian Sturdy explains why he voted against the extension of Coronavirus Act powers for another six months

A Yorkshire Conservative MP has warned Ministers against shifting the country to a "constant state of fear" as he revealed why he rebelled against government plans to extend coronavirus laws for a further six months.

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy was one of three Tory MPs in the region, along with David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden), Philip Davies (Shipley), who defied the Government over the prolonging of the “draconian” powers handed to Ministers for a further six months.

Labour MPs Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) and Richard Burgon (Leeds East) also voted against but Mr Burgon earlier said he did not want to be grouped together with Tories who also opposed.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Read More

Read More
Five Yorkshire MPs vote against the extension of coronavirus laws for further si...
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy was one of three Tory MPs in the region, along with David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden), Philip Davies (Shipley), who defied the Government over the prolonging of the “draconian” powers handed to Ministers for a further six months.

Measures to implement Boris Johnson's "road map" out of lockdown, which will see England's restrictions eased in a series of stages over the coming months, were passed in the Commons on Thursday without a vote.

But a series of Tory MPs refused to back a six-month extension to wide-ranging emergency powers contained in the Coronavirus Act after Health Secretary Matt Hancock was unable to say whether they would definitely expire after that.

Some 76 MPs voted to oppose the extension of the laws, although the measure passed with a majority of 408. Former minister Sir Desmond Swayne warned that the renewal of emergency coronavirus powers could lead to "total social control" and criticised the "oppressive legislation".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was challenged over whether emergency measures contained within the Coronavirus Act 2020 will still be needed in six months given Boris Johnson’s road map to lift all restrictions in England from June 21.

Mr Hancock told the Commons he “cannot answer” whether the Government will be “retiring” the legislation in October or whether it will be rolled on.

Speaking today, Mr Sturdy said the restrictions go "far beyond the end of the government’s roadmap for lifting all legal limits on social contact from 21st June, and long after all those at serious risk from covid have been covered by vaccination, and therefore represents an unnecessary prolonging of extraordinary and damaging restraints on everyday life".

He said: “Of course government must always have the necessary measures to tackle the virus, but with the amazing success of the vaccination programme, I no longer think it is right to hand enormous powers to Ministers and civil servants for such long periods of time.

"If the government had asked for powers to make restrictions to continue to the end of the roadmap around late June, or had committed to returning to seek the consent of the Commons for necessary restrictions to be kept in place in say 3 or 4 months, I would probably have been able to support them, but until September is simply too great a surrender of power by the people’s elected representatives.

"The size of the Conservative rebellion means the government only won the vote because it had Labour Party support, which I think reflects pretty poorly on a Labour leadership that endlessly criticises the government with the benefit of hindsight, but then always votes with it to maintain extraordinary restrictions for long periods.

"I hope the size of the Conservative revolt sends a clear message to Ministers that we expect them to keep to their commitment that the six month extension is a precaution, and that they will lift restrictions earlier than that as soon as is safe, as vaccination proceeds.

"Fundamentally, I rebelled because now we are through the worst of the pandemic, and have the vaccine, we need to prevent any normalisation of emergency government powers and shift to a constant state of fear.

"It is entirely reasonable for government to seek powers to confront the emergency, but we should get back to a situation where they do this in the normal way through consulting Parliament, rather than effectively removing MPs’ decision-making abilities for long periods.”