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Tory pairing cheating calls for resignations, says Labour

LABOUR is stepping up the campaign for two Tory MPs to leave the Commons for breaking a pairing deal.

Tory chair Brandon Lewis and Chief Whip Julian Smith should have the “honour” to resign or be sacked, deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said today.

Mr Lewis had been paired with Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson to cancel out each others’ votes. Ms Swinson, who has recently given birth, was unable to get to the Commons, handing the Tories a crucial extra vote.

But Mr Smith ordered Mr Lewis through the lobby anyway. The Tories admitted that he had asked several MPs to break pairing agreements but only Mr Lewis obeyed.

At a Belfast press conference yesterday, PM Theresa May claimed it was an “honest mistake.”

Mr Watson hit back: “It is unbelievable that the Prime Minister has repeated the desperate and blatantly untrue excuses made by her party chair and Chief Whip.

“From forcing seriously ill MPs into the Commons in their wheelchairs, carrying sick buckets, to cheating a new mum out of her vote, this government is rotten to its core.”

On Thursday, Labour chair Ian Lavery said that Mr Smith and Mr Lewis should go, and Ms May should apologise for “misleading the House.”

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett has written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to complain that Ms May had breached the ministerial code.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said there would be a debate on proxy voting, which would end the need for pairing, in September.

Lamiat Sabin in Morning Star Parliamentary Reporter

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