Julian Sturdy voted against extending the Covid emergency powers – here’s why
York MP Julian Sturdy defied his government and voted against extending the coronavirus laws last night (Thursday).
He was one of 35 Conservatives to rebel – but the measure had the backing of all but 21 Labour MPs and so won through by 484 to 76, a majority 408.
Mr Sturdy said he did so because the length of the extension – six months – goes far beyond the end of the government’s roadmap for lifting all legal limits on social contact from 21 June, and “long after all those at serious risk from Covid have been covered by vaccination”.
After the vote, the York Outer MP 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 three or four 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.”
He added: “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.”