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Barking and West Ham MPs who are shielding during coronavirus allowed proxy vote following rule change

PUBLISHED: 15:10 05 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:31 05 June 2020

West Ham MP Lyn Brown and Barking MP Margaret Hodge both expressed anger about the new Parliament rules which prevented them from casting their vote on Tuesday, June 2. Picture: PA/Stefan Rousseau

West Ham MP Lyn Brown and Barking MP Margaret Hodge both expressed anger about the new Parliament rules which prevented them from casting their vote on Tuesday, June 2. Picture: PA/Stefan Rousseau

PA Wire/PA Images

A rule change has been made which will allow MPs currently unable to attend parliament to arrange proxy voting, following criticisms of the new system which excluded representatives from Barking and West Ham earlier this week.

Labour MPs Dame Margaret Hodge and Lyn Brown were both unable to attend parliament in person on Tuesday, June 2, to vote on whether MPs could continue to vote remotely during the pandemic.

With the decision reached to end remote voting, both MPs were enraged about not being able to participate in the democratic process.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, the Barking MP — unable to attend due to being in the vulnerable age group — voiced her frustration, saying: “I am furious that for the first time in my 25 years as an MP I am being denied the right to vote!”

Labour colleague Peter Kyle spoke on Dame Margaret’s behalf at the vote, reading out a statement which criticised those who chose to end remote participation.

Margaret Hodge MP expressed frustrations about being denied the right to vote due to shielding because of coronavirus. Picture: Office of Margaret HodgeMargaret Hodge MP expressed frustrations about being denied the right to vote due to shielding because of coronavirus. Picture: Office of Margaret Hodge

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West Ham MP Ms Brown — who takes immunosuppressant medication — was equally damning of the decision: “Before this week, we had a virtual system in parliament for voting, questions and speeches.

“The government ended that system on Tuesday with no good reason, taking away the voices and the votes of those who have to shield, and unfairly disadvantaging the people of West Ham even further.”

Initially, this decision looked set to enforce a no-exceptions requirement to vote in person, widely seen as unfair on those still shielding due to coronavirus.

West Ham MP Lyn Brown says she is happy the rules have been changed to allow her to vote remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Lyn BrownWest Ham MP Lyn Brown says she is happy the rules have been changed to allow her to vote remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Lyn Brown

As a result, yesterday (June 4) the House of Commons passed a ruling to allow “clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable” MPs to arrange proxy voting.

This decision was welcomed by Dame Margaret, who believes that “parliament must continue to be a place where every MP has the right to vote and represent their constituents”.

Ms Brown added: “I’m glad that progress has been made to enable me to vote remotely and possibly even speak remotely.

“This will mean that I won’t have to drive into parliament, as I did this week, to sit in my car, shielding, until I can be seen.”


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