Curfew passes Commons vote despite Tory rebellion

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

10pm Curfew passes Commons vote despite Tory rebellion

Related tags: Curfew, Coronavirus, Government

A parliamentary vote on regulations linked to the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants in England has been won by the Government, despite aggressive opposition from backbench Tory MPs.

The vote, which happened last night (13 October), was on the Government's new three-tier alert system, which is set to come into force today (14 October) and will see pubs and bars in areas deemed 'very high' risk ordered to close​.

Originally a specific parliamentary vote on the curfew had been set to take place last week, but was delayed​ after it came to light that a group of Conservative MPs planned to try and establish a voting pact with Labour in a bid to overturn the legislation. 

In the end 42 Conservative MPs - plus two tellers - voted against the controversial lockdown measure, which has been in place since 24 September.

The vote was symbolic as the new alert system coming into force includes the curfew, and was not enough to stop Prime Minister Boris Johnson comfortably winning the vote by 299 votes to 82.

A total of 23 Labour MPs led by Jeremy Corbyn defied leader Sir Keir Starmer's order to abstain and voted with the Conservative rebels against the Government.

It was the biggest Tory rebellion Johnson has faced since he became Prime Minister and, had Labour MPs all voted with the rebels, could have overturned his 80-seat majority.

Calls for the Government to cancel the curfew have been growing within the hospitality sector for weeks now.

Late last month, a campaign putting pressure on the Government to make a U-turn on its curfew was launched​ in response to the negative impact the measure is having on the hospitality sector.

Created by a group of hospitality professionals from across England and Wales, the #CancelTheCurfew campaign is attempting to raise awareness amongst consumers of the impact that the policy is having on their industry, in hope that they will join them in pressuring the Government to make a U-turn on the policy.

The vote last night followed reports earlier in the day that the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) had suggested the impact of the curfew on Coronavirus transmission was negligible.

On 17 September, one week before the restriction was introduced, SAGE outlined the effectiveness of various measures aimed at curbing the rise in Coronavirus cases and concluded that curfews were 'likely to have a marginal impact'.

The report said the risk of transmission in bars, restaurants and cafes was 'likely to be higher than many other indoor settings' as people sit close together for long periods without wearing face coverings, and potentially talk loudly, risking spraying more virus into the air.

It added that alcohol also affects people's behaviour, with the scientists pointing to multiple outbreaks linked to bars.

Rather than a curfew, SAGE recommended that the Government consider the immediate closure of closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes.

Related topics: Legislation

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