Business Secretary Alok Sharma rubbed his head and nose several times with a headscarf and held his forehead as he gave a speech on Wednesday, asking questions about whether the UK government was right in demanding that its MPs return to parliament, while the number of new coronavirus infections and still big,
The House of Representatives has operated on a hybrid basis in recent weeks, with a limited number of MPs allowed in the Chamber and others allowed to participate and vote from home.
But with a move led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Representatives and a traditionalist conservative MP, the government used its parliamentary majority to conclude the agreement earlier this week.
MPs were forced to return to Westminster if they wanted to discuss and vote on the legislation. But the House of Commons authorities insisted on adhering to the rules of social distancing, meaning lawmakers had to join a huge line to vote the traditional way of going through payphones while copyists confirmed their names.
A report by the House of Commons Commission released on May 30 warned the government’s decision to recall Westminster from the Chamber with a socially distanced system that had “significant flaws”. The committee’s report says it is “seriously concerned about how this will work in practice” and suggested that “remote voting continue for a limited period of time, with members wishing to be able to vote in person and their votes recorded in the chamber”.
On Tuesday, after the first session after the virtual arrangements were rejected, he tweeted: “Today has shown how much more effective a proper parliament is, as opposed to imitation in conducting government accountability.” But Sharm’s disturbing appearance on Wednesday could cast doubt on the wisdom of forcing lawmakers into a cramped space.
Downing Street said that if Sharma is positive, Prime Minister Boris Johnson may be forced into self-isolation. A spokesman for the prime minister said Johnson and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak held a 45-minute meeting on the economy with Sharma on Tuesday. Social distancing rules have been maintained, a spokesman said.
Other MPs with whom he maintained contact with the minister may also be forced into a two-week quarantine if he tests for positivity.
A spokesman for Sharm’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told CNN on Wednesday: “Secretary of State Alok Sharma began to feel uncomfortable when he delivered a second reading of the corporate governance and insolvency bill in the chamber. He was tested for coronavirus and he returned home to isolate himself. “
At the time of Thursday’s announcement, Sharrma had not yet had the test results, the office said.
Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper said on Twitter that Rees-Mogg should resign as House Speaker for “bringing [it] in disrespect and unnecessarily endangering lives. ”She called on President Lindsay Hoyle to return parliament to virtual proceedings with only immediate effect.
Labor MP John McDonnell said on Twitter: “I want Alok Sharmi a speedy recovery, but this confirms that the lives of both staff and MPs are at risk. It was an irresponsible decision by Rees Mogg and Johnson to force the opening of Parliament. now return to locking and working online. “
This story has been updated to correct the date of publication of the report of the Home Home Commission.