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Anger over forced return to ‘19th Century super spreading’ Westminster despite soaring Covid rates

Pete Wishart MP

An SNP MP is furious over being forced to return to Westminster in-person while the Omicron variant sweeps across London.

Pete Wishart branded the historic UK Parliament a “19th Century super spreader” building as he criticised a lack of social distancing measures.

The Perthshire politician fears vulnerable colleagues could be “excluded” from serving constituents if they cannot attend to vote on policy.

It comes as Labour leader Keir Starmer confirmed he is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid and would miss Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons.

The capital has been hit hard by the highly transmissible Omicron variant in recent weeks.

Prime Minister’s Questions to return today

It’s estimated up to one in 20 locals in the city were infected with Covid last week with residents forced to isolate over the New Year.

Prime Minister’s Questions return today at 3pm with Boris Johnson set to be grilled by rivals.

Many MPs tuned in virtually at the start of the pandemic – but politicians still need to visit Westminster in-person for key parliamentary votes.

Last September the SNP’s Amy Callaghan revealed she had been denied a proxy vote because she was recovering from surgery.

The East Dunbartonshire MP pleaded with Westminster bosses at the time to “modernise” current rules.

MPs will be excluded from representing their constituents.”

– Pete Wishart

On Wednesday morning Mr Wishart tweeted: “Today Westminster returns in person to a London where 1 in 20 people have Covid.

“There will be no social distancing measures and MPs will be crammed into a 19th century super spreading environment.

“MPs will be excluded from representing their constituents.”

I am urging the UK Government to bring back proxy voting.”

– Amy Callaghan

A House of Commons committee has been exploring options which would allow MPs to vote by proxy more regularly in recent months after pleas from a cross-party group.

The SNP’s Amy Callaghan said: “We saw last year that the Westminster Parliament was capable of operating with hybrid participation and proxy voting to keep physical numbers down on the estate, preventing MPs becoming super spreaders and posing a risk to their constituents. I am urging the UK Government to bring back proxy voting.

“The decision to revoke it represented a backward step for inclusivity and for the modernisation of this Parliament.”

Keir Starmer self-isolating with Covid
Keir Starmer tested positive for Covid

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner will step in and take on the Prime Minister while the party chief Sir Keir quarantines at home.

Yesterday, Sir Keir ruled out any future election pacts with the SNP as he slammed the Tories for their “reckless” attitude towards Scotland.

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