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Fri, 3 July 2020

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Business Secretary Alok Sharma tested for coronavirus after feeling ill while speaking in Parliament

Business Secretary Alok Sharma tested for coronavirus after feeling ill while speaking in Parliament

Business Secretary Alok Sharma appeared visibly unwell in the Commons (Parliamentlive.TV)

2 min read

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma is self-isolating at home after feeling ill while speaking in the House of Commons.

The Cabinet minister has been tested for coronavirus after becoming visibly unwell at the despatch box on Wednesday afternoon.

It has led to further anger at the end of the hybrid parliamentary proceedings and renewed calls to allow MPs to keep working at home.

Mr Sharma was in the Commons chamber for nearly an hour while leading for the Government on the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill.

He was sweating heavily and struggled to get through his speech, repeatedly seen wiping his face and blowing his nose.

Several hours later it was later confirmed the Reading West MP had been tested for Covid-19 and had returned home.

A spokesperson said: "Alok Sharma began feeling unwell when in the Chamber delivering the second reading of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill.

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

The House of Commons authorities said "additional cleaning" had taken place following the debate.

Mr Sharma had attended a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor at Downing Street on Tuesday morning.

He also took part in divisions in the Commons later that day, where hundreds of members had queued up together to cast their vote in controversial new temporary measures.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said it showed making MPs come back to Westminster during the pandemic was “reckless”.

She tweeted: “This is just awful. The government stopped MPs from working from home and asked us to return to a building where social distancing is impossible. 

"MPs are travelling home to every part of the country tonight. Reckless doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

And the SNP's deputy Westminster leader Kirsty Blackman said the suspected case demonstrates "just how ridiculous and irresponsible the Tory Government's decision to end virtual participation in Parliament was".

She added: ”They must now rectify this serious mistake and reintroduce hybrid proceedings without delay.”

The Government has already U-turned on the decision to end remote participation in debates for shielding MPs, and another motion has been tabled for debate on Thursday which would extend proxy voting to cover them and those members who are over-70.

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