As expected, the overwhelming majority of MPs backed the extension of the Coronavirus Act for a further six months - despite Boris Johnson's assertion that all restrictions would end in June. As Tory backbencher Charles Walker asserted during Thursday's debate, the Act would undoubtedly be extended again in September: "As sure as eggs are eggs, we will be back here in six months at the end of September being asked to renew this legislation again. It is inevitable and anyone who thinks it’s not inevitable is deluding themselves".
Even if the virus has dwindled to almost nothing by then, Johnson will undoubtedly still be able to rely on his pro-lockdown partner-in-crime to back him up and thwart any major backbench rebellion. On Thursday Starmer and his MPs were provided with yet another opportunity to provide opposition to this unwarranted and dystopian legislation and yet again they overwhelmingly rubber-stamped it.
However, unlike previous votes Labour support was not universal. 21 Labour MPs voted against the extension, a mix of moderate and hard left members. There was a significant split among Labour's Socialist Campaign Group, with the likes of Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon and John McDonnell opposing the renewal, while others such as Rachael Maskell, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Nadia Whittome voted in favour.
After twelve months of supporting lockdowns, the increasingly absurdly named Liberal Democrats finally found a conscience and voted en masse against the renewal - yes, all eleven of them. The solitary hard left Green balloon head Caroline Lucas also inexplicably decided to row back on twelve months of supporting lockdowns. Seven of the eight DUP members also opposed the renewal, despite it not applying to Northern Ireland.
As always it was Tory backbenchers who provided the bulk of the 76 noes. It wasn't a huge rebellion, but 36 rebels and more than twenty abstentions served as a vital reminder to this dystopian government that conservative opposition is tangible and could pose a real threat in future - especially when pressure begins to grow on MPs as the excuses for maintaining restrictions wear ever thinner.