Parties Unite Against Tory Plan to Shutdown Virtual Parliament

Reckless move would effectively lock Scotland out of Parliament.

Opposition parties have united against Tory plans to shut down virtual participation in the Westminster Parliament – warning the move would increase risk of infection in communities and disenfranchise Scotland.

In a joint letter today to Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg and Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, the Westminster leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Greens, and Alliance Party say full virtual participation must remain in order to respect public health guidance in all four nations and ensure all MPs across the UK can represent their constituents.

The letter comes as YouGov polling suggests the clear majority of people in Scotland (68%) and across Britain (60%) oppose calls for MPs to return to Parliament physically – including a majority in all demographics and voting groups.

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP (pictured) said:

“Opposition parties are clear that full virtual participation in Parliament must remain in place – so all MPs can continue to represent our constituents and hold the UK government to account.

“Tory plans to shut down virtual participation would disrespect Scotland’s clear public health guidance, increase the risk of infection in our communities, and disenfranchise Scotland by effectively locking our MPs out of Parliament.

“The clear message in Scotland is ‘stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives’.

“It’s unacceptable that the Tory government is trying to force MPs to go against the advice, and put our constituents at risk, by travelling hundreds of miles back and forth to Westminster.

“Polls show the overwhelming majority of the public oppose the moves.

“The Tories are showing a lack of respect to Scotland, and the other devolved nations, by putting forward reckless proposals that ignore our ‘stay at home’ approach.

“It is time for Westminster to step into the 21st century.

“Virtual participation works and must remain in place as we tackle this public health emergency.”