Theresa May has been accused of ‘inhuman’ tactics to win a crunch Brexit vote after Labour claimed Tory whips were refusing to help its sick and ill MPs take part.
The row erupted just hours before the expected Parliamentary showdown between the Prime Minister and her ‘Remain rebels’ on the Conservative backbenches.
Labour sources told HuffPost UK that the Tories were refusing to adopt the usual convention of allowing hospitalised MPs to register their vote despite their incapacity.
At least one and possibly two Labour MPs are having to come from hospital for the Brexit vote, with one on morphine for pain relief.
One Labour MP in a wheelchair had to get to the voting lobby in person.
In a long-standing ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the parties, MPs can be ferried by car to the grounds of Parliament and then ‘nodded through’ twithout having to physically walk through the voting lobbies.
But the source said that the Tory whips were refusing to comply early on Wednesday.
“It’s outrageous. We’ve been nodding through on all sides up until today. It’s just inhuman really.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman said: “As I understand it there has been a refusal to pass through people who are not in a state to vote in the normal way. And that’s obviously unacceptable.”
A Tory party source said they would check the claims.
One Parliamentary source said that Labour whips agreed to ‘nod through’ many sick and ill Tory MPs in recent years.
Tory backbencher Nick Boles, who is recovering from cancer, was allowed to remain in a car in the Commons as it was deemed he was susceptible to infection, a source said.
‘Nodding through’ was used extensively during the 1970s minority Labour government, with even dying MPs ferried to Parliament to register their votes.
May has no Commons majority but relies on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to get her legislation and Budget through the House of Commons.
The tough approach taken by the Tory whips was seen as unnecessary and counter-productive by Labour as a compromise deal on Brexit appeared to loom.
May was facing a dramatic showdown with her own Conservative backbenchers as they bid to support a key amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that gives a “meaningful” role for Parliament over her final deal with Brussels.
The Government has warned that the proposal, led by former Cabinet minister Dominic Grieve, is unacceptable because it would “bind” the hands of ministers in key talks with the EU.
But a last-minute compromise deal was being hammered out by some of the rebels and Government ministers, HuffPost was told.