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Business secretary Alok Sharma has been tested for coronavirus and is returning home to self-isolate after beginning to feel unwell in the House of Commons chamber, his spokesperson said.
The development came a day after MPs approved the government’s plan to end virtual voting in the Commons.
During a debate, Sharma 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.
“Secretary of state Alok Sharma began feeling unwell when in the chamber delivering the second reading of the corporate governance and Insolvency Bill,” the spokesperson said.
“In line with guidance he has been tested for coronavirus and is returning home to self-isolate.”
HuffPost UK understands there was a long suspension of the Commons while there was a “deep clean” of the despatch box and nearby area after Sharma’s appearance.
The Commons was due to be suspended for 5 minutes, which is the normal turnaround to allow MPs in and out at distance, but it ended up being suspended for 15 minutes.
It comes following fierce criticism that MPs with disabilities and caring responsibilities have been shut out by the ending of virtual proceedings.
Chaotic scenes emerged in the House of Commons on Tuesday as MPs joined an Alton Towers-style queue to decide to end online voting during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Social distancing measures required them to join a queue, keep two metres apart, walk through the Commons chamber and announce their vote.
The queue stretched for several hundred metres, snaking throughout the parliamentary estate, with the first vote running for 46 minutes.