The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill easily passed its first Commons hurdle by 359 votes to 263. The controversial bill was backed only by Tory MPs, with all opposition MPs either voting against or abstaining. Only two Labour MPs failed to oppose the bill (Birmingham MPs Liam Byrne and Steve McCabe).
Backbench libertarian concerns about freedom of protest failed to result in a significant rebellion, with only three Tories voting against the bill - lockdown sceptics Anne Marie Morris, Desmond Swayne and Charles Walker. In his contribution to the debate, Walker pointed out that the House had already outlawed protest as a result of the coronavirus lockdown: "We are up to our eyeballs in this" he said.
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The timing of this bill is unfortunate for the government, and the police who are going to have to deal with the unrest that follows. Perhaps it would have been more prudent to have passed the bill in the winter months when protests are seldom seen. With lockdown dragging on endlessly and the media whipping up the left, a perfect storm is approaching.