A hardcore of as many as 60 Conservative MPs is expected to rebel against Government plans to extend emergency powers to the end of September, despite the lockdown officially ending in June.
Politicians in the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) blasted the ‘significant draconian powers’ and questioned the need for them to be in place if the UK has returned to relative normal.
However, any Tory rebellion is almost certain to fail to impede the legislation, with Labour planning to back it in this evening’s Commons vote.
CRG leader Mark Harper, who believes plans to ease the lockdown ‘could safely go more quickly’, told Sky News: ‘The biggest problem today is the extension of some very significant draconian powers in the Coronavirus Act which the Government doesn’t want to extend until June, it actually wants to extend all the way into October.
‘And these are quite significant powers; they are powers, for example, for the police to detain people indefinitely and to continue having powers to shutdown events and so forth all the way through to October.
‘And I haven’t heard a single good answer about why the Government wishes to do that, given that the Prime Minister has said he wants to be out of all of our legal restrictions by June.’
The legislation for restrictions over the coming months, as the Government sets out its road map for coming out of lockdown, will see some restrictions remain in place in England until at least June 21.
There are also question marks over summer holidays taking place after that date, amid a third wave of Covid infections in mainland Europe.
But Conservative MP Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the CRG, said the vote was a ‘rare opportunity’ for MPs to ‘say no to a new way of life in a checkpoint society’.
‘I was glad to hear the Prime Minister reassure William Wragg MP at the Liaison Committee today that ‘anything that is redundant will go’ in relation to Coronavirus Act powers,’ the former minister said last night.
‘Draconian police powers under Schedule 21, which have a 100 per cent unlawful prosecution record, must be considered ‘redundant’ to say the very least.