Unrestricted Commons debate reveals new British political division: Mask


The House of Commons of Full Capacity met for the first time in 18 months without the yoke of pandemic restrictions, revealing a whole new political division in Britain, the Mask.

To see which MPs wear masks (which are still recommended by government guidelines for crowded indoor spaces), political experts expect to wait until Congress returns in early September. I did.

That moment was raised when the government convened an extraordinary session of the House of Commons on August 18 to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan.

The pattern of the full capacity chamber was clear.

On conservative government benches, only a small proportion of parliamentarians wore masks. The prime minister and most of his cabinet did not wear masks.

Meanwhile, on the opposition bench, the Labor leader and his shadow cabinet, like most Labor lawmakers, all covered, except to speak.

The only government ministers to wear masks were Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove and Security Minister Damian Hines.

Epoch Times Photo
The conservative government minister will meet with Labor leader Keir Starmer on August 18, 2021 in the British House of Commons in London. (Parliamentary TV)

Former Prime Minister Theresa May and former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt were a minority with face covers on the government backbench.

Wearing masks in indoor spaces has not been required by law since July and is instead under government guidance. The guidance states, “We expect and recommend that the general public continue to wear face covers in crowded, closed spaces where they come into contact with people they do not normally meet.”

Epoch Times Photo
On August 18, 2021, during a debate at the House of Commons in London, a Labor lawmaker, mostly wearing a mask, sits behind leader Keir Starmer. (Member of Parliament TV)

Some lawmakers have criticized the government for setting hypocrisy or bad examples. Labor Rep. Angela Eagle wrote on Twitter: There are few other Tories. “

When asked why many lawmakers weren’t wearing masks in the House of Commons, the prime minister’s official spokesman said it was a matter of parliamentary authorities.

A spokesman said the advice that facial coverings should be worn indoors in crowded areas “still remains.” But he added: “The House of Representatives arrangement is a matter of parliamentary authorities. As you know, masks are not a mandatory requirement.”

The heated debate about Afghanistan left the Chamber of Commerce with only standing seats, despite no votes. This is the normal situation before voting and important debates, but it hasn’t been seen since the pandemic began.

For the past 16 months, social distance regulations have allowed only a small proportion of lawmakers to attend discussions and votes directly in the meeting room. The majority of parliamentarians participate in voting and debate in remote areas. That approach is currently being revoked.

On the other hand, in the House of Lords, where the average age is 20 years or older, lawmakers can still participate in remote debates. This was done by many today during a parallel session on the Afghanistan crisis.

PA contributed to this report.

Simon Veazey

Simon Veazey

Freelance reporter

Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has been reporting on the Epoch Times since 2006 on a variety of beats, from detailed coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing of the latest news.