'Democracy dies in darkness' is a very apt description of how the Coronavirus Act was renewed for a further five months. It was not renewed for six months, as it had been in September 2020 and March 2021, because the Act is due to expire in March 2022.
Tuesday's debate began with a speech from the Health Secretary on why the Act should be renewed. This was followed by just 90 minutes of debate, after which the deputy speaker (Rosie Winterton) waved through the motion without a Parliamentary vote.
Click below to see the extraordinary moment this despotic piece of legislation was waved through.
The media largely ignored this disgraceful escapade. This was the BBC News politics pages last night - not one mention of the Coronavirus Act.
Around half of the provisions contained in the original Act were rescinded earlier this year. Labour had indicated prior to the debate that they would not oppose the renewal of the remaining powers, effectively negating a Tory rebellion. A proper vote would have undoubtedly extended the Act, but in dodging it MPs have avoided individual responsibility for whatever nightmare is about to unfold this winter. Calls for lockdown restrictions to return are already growing in the mainstream media.
During Tuesday's debate the Tory backbencher and lockdown sceptic Steve Baker deplored his party's damaged reputation: "With great respect to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State - he's a great man who believes in liberty, but it's going to be very difficult for all people who stayed in the Cabinet and took these decisions to say that they stand for freedom in the years ahead". It was a damning point. Baker went on to call for the overhaul of the 1984 Public Health Act, under which many of the Covid restrictions were implemented: "We're going to need to show the public that we stand for freedom... and actually in the long run their rights are sacrosant and we're never ever going to do to them again what we've done in the last couple of years".
Baker is spot on. The Conservative Party will take many years to recover from what they have overseen in government, if the damage is not permanently irreversible. The behaviour of this government has been anything but conservative.
Although the Coronavirus Act is due to expire in March 2022, a UK government response to a recent petition on their webside read ominously: "In the spring, the government will review this legislation and the other remaining regulations and measures and decide whether any need to remain in place".