Business Secretary tested for coronavirus after appearing ill in the Commons
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has been tested for coronavirus after becoming visibly unwell in the House of Commons chamber.
He was travelling home to self-isolate after he struggled during a speech at the despatch box during the second reading of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill on Wednesday.
The development came a day after MPs approved the Government’s plan to end virtual voting in the Commons.
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.”
During the debate, he was seen wiping his face with a handkerchief several times and his opposite number in Labour’s shadow cabinet, Ed Miliband, passed him a glass of water at one point.
Labour shadow minister Toby Perkins had raised concerns over Mr Sharma’s appearance in the Commons earlier in the day.
“This is not ok. If he has symptoms that could be Covid-19, it’s not up to him to soldier on, he is jeopardising the health of everyone who he comes across and everyone else who touches that despatch box and every door handle he touches etc,” Mr Perkins tweeted.
“Maybe he’s had a test and knows it’s not that, but if so he should confirm that to people watching, otherwise the message again goes out that what the government says and means about what to do if you have symptoms are two different things.”
Digital voting in the Commons was ended on Tuesday when MPs approved a Government motion introduced by Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg despite widespread objections.
Senior Conservatives, opposition groups and the equalities watchdog raised concerns that the move would prevent many MPs, particularly the elderly and vulnerable ones who are shielding, from being able to vote.
Chaotic scenes unfolded in the Commons when MPs formed a long queue snaking through Parliament so they could maintain social distancing while voting on the motion.
Boris Johnson on Wednesday dismissed complaints over the system, saying: “I do not think it’s unreasonable that we should ask parliamentarians to come back to this place and do their job for the people of this country.”
But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the scenes were “shameful” and pushed the Prime Minister to end the “completely unnecessary and unacceptable” process.