Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was forced to miss Prime Minister’s Questions because of a delay in receiving a coronavirus test result for one of his children, his deputy said.
Angela Rayner, standing in for Sir Keir at the despatch box on Wednesday lunchtime, told Boris Johnson that she had a message from “a man called Keir”.
She told the Commons: “Keir wasn’t able to go to work today and his children couldn’t go to school because his family had to wait for their coronavirus test results despite the Prime Minister’s promise of results within 24 hours.
“Keir was able to do the right thing and self-isolate and work from home, but other people aren’t in this position – many of them are the very people getting us through this crisis.”
Mr Johnson said he understood a negative test had been returned for Sir Keir’s child, adding: “I don’t know why he is not here.”
The Labour leader was advised to self-isolate on Monday while awaiting the result of a test for a member of his household who showed possible symptoms of Covid-19.
Less than half an hour before PMQs was due to begin, Sir Keir said he was “very pleased and relieved that the test result for one of my children came back negative this morning”.
A decision had been made on Tuesday for his deputy, Ms Rayner, to take his place at the question session.
Following the exchanges, Sir Keir tweeted: “Fantastic PMQs from my friend Angela Rayner!”
He earlier wrote on Twitter: “I’m very pleased and relieved that the test result for one of my children came back negative this morning.
“Thank you to the NHS hospital where my wife works for ensuring that their staff and family members have quick access to a test.
“However, I know the situation is desperate at the moment for thousands of families across the country who are struggling to get a test.
“They deserve answers and for this problem to be fixed.”