WATCH Andrea Leadsom blames Labour after sick MP forced to vote in wheelchair
Andrea Leadsom has said that Labour are to blame for one of their MPs being forced to vote in a wheelchair.
Bradford West MP Naz Shah was wheeled through the division lobbies clutching a sick bowl yesterday, after a longstanding convention for ill MPs to be "nodded through" - meaning they do not have to physically go through the voting lobbies - was ditched by Government whips.
Critics said the move was designed to put those MPs off voting at all, thereby increasing the chances of a Government win during yesterday's crunch vote on amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
But Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom today tried to shift the blame onto Labour, accusing the party of not giving the Government enough notice to let it make arrangements for sick parliamentarians.
Addressing MPs, she said: "Now I was particularly sorry that the Honourable Member for Bradford West was forced to come and vote here while unwell.
"But the fact that she had to come all the way for Bradford when she was so unwell is clearly a matter for the honourable lady's party.
“It is simply not right to accuse the Government of putting her in this position when the first notice that the Government was given of this was just before midday.”
She added: "What her party should have done was to sort out an arrangement for somebody in much better time. I’m not personally privy to those discussions, but communication clearly needs to improve, and this is something that should be resolved privately."
Shadow Leader of the House Valerie Vaz slammed the practice, saying all "trust and conventions seem to have broken down" in the chamber, while another Labour source told PoliticsHome: "It is shameful and very shortsighted."
Ms Shah told the Guardian: "I was in my pyjamas. It felt personally very undignified and very invasive. It was embarrassing.
"I thought I’d just be able to stay in the back of the car, where I’d made a bed for myself, and be counted there, but the Tories wouldn’t have it.
"By making me go in to vote like that, they stripped me of my dignity."
Other Labour MPs who had to attend the vote - which the Government won after key Conservative rebels backed down - included North west Durham MP Laura Pidcock, who is eight months pregnant.
Ms Pidcock, who is suffering serious back pain because of her pregnancy, told BuzzFeed news: "This week [...] with my due date a matter of a few weeks away, and in extreme discomfort – the baby is lying on my sciatic nerve – I have had to struggle in to parliament, aided by a wheelchair at times, only to be checked out by government whips to make sure that I’m not faking it."