Politics

Tory MP with breast cancer slaps down Jacob Rees-Mogg: Those working at home are not ‘shirking’


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Tory MP being treated for breast cancer has slapped down Jacob Rees-Mogg, telling him people who are working from home are not “shirking”.

Former sports minister Tracey Crouch, 44, appeared via video link to urge the Leader of the House of Commons to allow MPs to participate more in Parliamentary business through technology.  

The mother-of-one underwent surgery in June to remove two tumours and had another operation in July to remove potentially cancerous tissue and lymph nodes.

She pointed out that Mr Rees-Mogg’s rules meant that she could not participate in a Westminster Hall debate on breast cancer services on Thursday.

She said: “[Mr Rees-Mogg] will be aware there is a debate in Westminster Hall today on breast cancer which – because of his ruling – some of us with real and current life experience of the disease are disappointingly unable to participate in.

“While I respect [his] commitment to traditional parliamentary procedures, I’m sure if he was on the backbenches and not the fine specimen of health and fitness he clearly is, he would be arguing forcefully for members to be able to contribute more often in proceedings by modern technology.

“Perhaps even currying favour with you, Mr Speaker, by suggesting that not every contribution to a debate requires an intervention.

“Given that hybrid proceedings have been extended, would he please stop thinking those of us at home are shirking our duties – in fact quite the opposite – and urgently reconsider virtual participation even if just for general backbench and Westminster Hall debates.”

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Mr Rees-Mogg responded to the MP for Chatham and Aylesford, telling her that a “careful balance” had to be struck.

He said MPs who are shielding and vulnerable were able to participate in “many aspects” of the House’s business such as voting by proxy and select committees. Proxy voting allows an MP to vote on behalf of another who is clinically vulnerable to the virus.

Earlier in the debate, Mr Reees-Mogg also said MPs would not be allowed to return to remote voting.  

He told the Commons Westminster Hall was brought back when broadcasting facilities were already being “fully utilised” so it was not an option.

He added: “We do have to get a balance between the needs of honourable members and the needs of the House as a whole to proceed with its business.

“And with debates, we do need to have the proper holding to account of ministers which is the purpose of the debates and to have the interventions that make a debate rather than a series of statements.

“So it is a question of striking a careful balance in these difficult times between ensuring Parliament can serve its constituents in full and making sure that members can complete their duties as safely and as effectively as possible.”

Ms Crouch recently spoke out about her diagnosis in an interview in the Daily Mail and said: “I was traumatised after finding the lump. And Covid meant I had to wait alone outside the breast clinic on my first appointment, in tears, awful thoughts going through my head.”

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As England went into a second lockdown, she shared a photograph of herself with a message reminding people to still see their GPs if they have concerns.  

She wrote: “Just a reminder that we may be in lockdown but our health services remain open for business. Check your bits and bobbins and go see your GP if you’re worried.”



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