Rees-Mogg quashes calls to reinstate online voting after 'coronavirus conga put MPs at risk'

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Published on 4 Jun 2020, 14:00
Shadow Leader of the Commons, Valerie Vaz, requested the house return to online voting after the first COVID-19 distancing '1km long' queue vote on Tuesday saw MPs 'grouped together' and put unnecessarily at risk of spreading and catching coronavirus.

A process that has since been dubbed 'coronavirus conga'. The day after the vote, Business Secretary Alok Sharma appeared to be sweating and looked visibly ill during a speech in the House of Commons.

MPs approved the Government's plan to end virtual voting in the Commons early this week at the behest of Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The return to the House saw farcical scenes as MPs queued for up to 44 minutes to vote as the line snaked through Westminster.

MPs were fuming and said they could still vote remotely and not put each others at risk.

Alok Sharma, travelled home to self-isolate after he struggled through a speech on a business bill at the despatch box, but MPs reacted in dismay that he was allowed to be there in the first place.

A spokeswoman for Mr Sharma said: "Secretary of State Alok Sharma began feeling unwell when in the chamber delivering the second reading of the Corporate Governance and Insolvency Bill.

"In line with guidance he has been tested for coronavirus and is returning home to self-isolate."

A House of Commons spokeswoman said "additional cleaning" had taken place following the suspected case of Covid-19.

Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy told ITV’s Peston last night that MPs who were in contact with Sharma or in the chamber at the time “will have gone back into the community and potentially have taken the virus with them” if the Business Secretary comes down with the virus.

He said: “Which is why the representation to Jacob Rees-Mogg was so serious, and it's bizarre and dangerous that they were ignored.

"We could have had electronic voting alongside a Parliament that was really, really carefully socially distanced which is what we had before the recess, and that was thrown out."

Labour shadow minister Toby Perkins said: "This is ridiculous. It was clear that Alok Sharma looked unwell.

"If there are now fears that he may have Covid-19 and he hadn't already tested negative, it was the height of irresponsibility for him to be in Parliament sniffling, sweating and snorting from the despatch box."

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