BORIS Johnson survived a Tory revolt over controversial plans to end online voting for MPs during the coronavirus crisis as the UK Government came under criticism from the equality watchdog.

And one Conservative backbencher, who is shielding and unhappy at the Government move, said it meant MPs like him and those ill or self-isolating had been turned into “parliamentary eunuchs”.

Senior Conservatives, including a former Cabinet minister, tabled amendments to the Government’s plans to force parliamentarians into the Commons in order to vote when they returned from recess.

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The Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to all MPs to "raise our concern" ahead of a vote on the move, saying it "cannot be right" to exclude elected representatives.

The watchdog warned it would "place at significant disadvantage" MPs who were shielding or self-isolating due to age, disability, health or pregnancy as well as those who will struggle to travel to Westminster.

The proposal announced by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader, saw parliamentarians forming queues several hundred metres long in order to obey social distancing rules despite the Lords planning a move online.

It was approved by 261 votes to 163, a majority of 98, while an amendment to allow remote voting to return was defeated by 185 votes to 242, a majority of 57, following a division that took nearly 50 minutes as MPs lined up in a long queue to have their names recorded voting aye and no in the Commons chamber.

Some Conservative MPs rebelled when casting their vote although full division lists have yet to be released.

Robert Halfon is among the senior Tories who say the move is depriving the parliamentary rights of individuals who, like him, are shielding as well as those who are ill or self-isolating.

The Conservative MP, who chairs the Commons Education Committee, accused Mr Rees-Mogg and his superiors of lacking empathy, and displaying a "tough luck, we don't care" attitude.

"Clearly, in this case,” said Mr Halfon, “sadly, Jacob and the powers that be are being harsh and unbending. The MPs who genuinely cannot come in, our democratic rights are being snipped away and we're being turned into parliamentary eunuchs.

"Not only will the hundreds of MPs, who for one reason or another will not be able to come in because they are affected by Covid, be denied their fundamental rights, but their constituents will not have a voice in Parliament because they will not be able to vote."

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Philippa Whitford, the SNP’s health spokeswoman at Westminster, was also unable to attend because she is believed to be in a high-risk group.

"The Tory Government is attacking democracy by shutting down virtual participation in the UK Parliament. Many people across Scotland and the UK will be disenfranchised by the move, which will block their MPs from participating and voting,” argued the Central Ayrshire MP.

She said it was particularly unjust that those MPs, who would be most disenfranchised by the removal of the hybrid Parliament, had been excluded from voting on the Commons motion.

“Many MPs from Scotland and elsewhere, through no choice of their own, will find themselves locked out of Parliament if they or a family member are shielding or in a high-risk group. Over time, other MPs will be affected by quarantine and self-isolation requirements as the pandemic continues. SNP MPs will continue to press the Tory Government to reverse its botched plans and reinstate full virtual participation,” added Dr Whitford.

Ahead of the vote, Rebecca Hilsenrath, the Commission’s Chief Executive, called on MPs "to show leadership in championing equality and non-discrimination" when voting on the Government plans to ensure Parliament "remains inclusive".

She said: "We are concerned by the announcement today from the Leader of the House of Commons which implies that Parliament may proceed without provision for the remote participation of Members who are unable to travel to Westminster because of the pandemic.

"This will place at significant disadvantage MPs who are shielding or self-isolating because of age, disability, health conditions or pregnancy, as well as other Members who will struggle to attend the chamber in person due to travel restrictions and caring responsibilities.

"It cannot be right for Parliament to proceed without provision for remote participation, when many elected representatives cannot attend in person."

In a joint statement, Mr Halfon and Labour’s Vicky Foxcroft, the Shadow Minister for Disabled People, urged the Government to re-think plans to end digital voting.

"What stronger message can you get than the EHRC, one of the Government's own non-departmental public bodies, confirming that the ending of remote participation for those of us who are shielding or otherwise unable to attend Parliament is discriminatory?" they asked.

Mr Rees-Mogg told his ConservativeHome podcast that he was planning to introduce measures to allow shielding MPs a way to play a limited role in Commons proceedings.

He said the changes were necessary because legislation was on a "go slow" due to constraints on committees operating with only around a third of the usual level of legislative activity.

"We would simply not have been able to deliver on the manifesto if we had not brought Parliament back," declared the Commons Leader.

He told the Commons that he would table a motion on Wednesday, which would enable those MPs unable to attend Parliament on medical grounds to take part in certain proceedings.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, was forced to draw up plans to allow MPs to safely vote on the proposals in person on Tuesday but he has called on the Government and Labour to agree on a safe compromise.