Poulter’s anger as MPs vote against allowing remote voting to stay
PUBLISHED: 18:02 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:02 02 June 2020
A Suffolk MP has rebelled against the government and labelled the decision to end remote voting in Parliament “utter madness” after waiting more than 30 minutes in a queue to cast his vote at the despatch box.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said the government had disregarded all its advice about the advisability of working at home – and felt it was discriminatory because it effectively denied MPs who were shielding the chance to vote and their constituents the right to be represented in Parliament.
Dr Poulter left his work as a hospital doctor in London to vote against the government. He said: “This was the most ridiculous vote I’ve ever taken part in. I left a hospital where everyone is doing everything they can to combat Covid-19 and came in here to find a long snaking queue and where people don’t seem to understand what is happening out there in the real world.”
He said the queue tried to ensure MPs were two metres apart, but it was so long that it snaked out of the building: “It was about a kilometre long. If it had been raining the MPs at the back would have got very wet. There are about 10,000 people working in this building. Some have been allowed to work from home – but this is putting everyone in unnecessary danger.
“I don’t think any medically-qualified MPs could have supported this!”
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Dr Poulter was wearing a face mask and an NHS polo shirt as he queued to vote in Westminster Hall – and took these pictures describing the scenes as “utter madness”.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt understood Dr Poulter’s concerns and said that for him it was a very finely balanced decision – but in the end he did vote with the government to end remote voting.
He said: “I really do understand the concerns of people like (Harlow MP) Robert Halfon who is unable to come to the House of Commons because he is shielding at home.
“But there have been problems with electronic voting and we have to go back to voting in person at some point and I did vote with the government.”
An amendment put down by former Conservative cabinet minister Karen Bradley to allow remote voting to continue was rejected by 185 votes to 242 – meaning the long queues will continue while the social distancing rules are in place.
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