A pandemic forces parliament to welcome digital democracy – but will it last?

Since the COVID-19 crisis escalated, the boisterous shouting of the House of Commons has been replaced by an unusual quiet.

Only 50 MPs can fit in there – at a two-metre distance from each other – and 120 others can join in by videolink.

This is the new “hybrid” system which was unveiled last month. And this week MPs voted remotely for the first time by pressing a button on their laptops.

An institution not known for its swift adoption of new technology has embraced democracy by Zoom.

Sky News met the small team of people tasked with setting up the system which could hold government to account while observing social distancing.

How will it hold up when the government is already calling for MPs to return to Westminster as soon as next month?

Peter Bone, the outspoken Tory MP for Wellingborough, is one of those agitating for a return.

“The technology is fine for casework constituency work. But scrutinising government is just hopeless,” he said.

“You can’t intervene, you can’t question a minister during a debate, the government is getting a free ride when it comes to scrutiny.”

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