Sheffield’s Conservative MP rebels against Government on Covid vote

Sheffield’s Conservative MP has voted against extending Covid restrictions for another month – rebelling against her own Prime Minister.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 2:01 pm

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates opposed her own Government and party leader Boris Johnson for the first time since being elected in December 2019.

While the five Labour MPs in Sheffield supported the Government’s plan to extend the restrictions, Ms Cates was part of a rebellion by Tory backbenchers.

MPs voted 461 to 60 to back Mr Johnson’s plan to delay the final stage of the roadmap and limit numbers for sporting events, theatres and cinema and to keep nightclubs closed until July 19.

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Miriam Cates and Matt Hancock.

Earlier this week Ms Cates said she was “deeply concerned about the implications of postponing Liberation Day”.

Writing for the political website UnHerd she said: “We need to restore a sense of perspective and see Covid for what it is; an infectious disease that is no longer a significant threat to the British public as a whole and is here to stay.

“If the serious restrictions that we face are now out of proportion to the threat, then we are setting a dangerous precedent.

“What other freedoms will we allow the Government to curtail in response to new risks? Should we be locked down in a bad flu season? Where there are other threats to our national health – obesity or diabetes for instance – will we allow ourselves and our behaviour to be tracked and traced?”

She is critical in the article of her own Government. “What can we hope to achieve by continuing with the restrictions? If case rates don’t fall, does that mean that the measures will be renewed again?

“The Government has said that it is not pursuing a zero Covid strategy, but that the goal is for the disease to become endemic and manageable.

“With the Covid death rate now low, and vaccination uptake high, it could be argued that we have already achieved this goal.

“I am deeply concerned about the implications of postponing Liberation Day; history teaches us never to be complacent about the erosion of individual freedoms by the State.”