Covid: Boris Johnson to do Prime Minister’s Questions via video

Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands near Lee Anderson MP last Thursday

Lee Anderson MP/Facebook

Boris Johnson will become the first prime minister in history to conduct his weekly question-and-answer session with MPs via video link later, as he continues to self-isolate.

He is working from 10 Downing Street after coming into contact with fellow Conservative MP Lee Anderson, who later tested positive for coronavirus.

The PM decided to take questions rather than have deputy Dominic Raab fill in.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will be in the Commons chamber as usual.

Up to 50 MPs are currently allowed in at any one time, with remote contributors using Zoom to ask questions and respond to ministerial statements.

  • PM and Tory MPs self-isolating after No 10 meeting

  • Labour and unions urge return to hybrid Parliament

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “There is an agreement that Prime Minister’s Questions will go ahead and the prime minister will take part remotely.”

Meanwhile, the FDA senior civil servants’ union has argued that Mr Johnson’s use of a video link to answer questions shows a fully “hybrid” Parliament – using video conferencing across all parliamentary business – is possible.

National officer Jawad Raza told the BBC it was “unconscionable that an exception be made to suit the prime minister but not to protect the health and safety of everyone working across the Parliamentary Estate”.

“This doesn’t just mean MPs, as hundreds of House staff work on the estate to support the work of parliamentarians and facilitate the UK’s democratic processes,” he added.

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What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation means staying at home and not leaving it – even to buy food, medicines or other essentials, or for exercise.

If you are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS Covid-19 app, you must self-isolate for 14 days from the day you were last in contact with the person who tested positive for coronavirus.

And if you develop symptoms during the 14-day period, you should get a test as soon as possible.

If the result is negative, you should continue isolating for the rest of the 14 days.

If positive, you should self-isolate for at least another 10 days from when your symptoms started.

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On Monday, House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg gave way to an appeal from Conservative MP Tracey Crouch – who is receiving treatment for cancer – for more video participation for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

A motion aimed at making this happen will be debated on Wednesday.

But Mr Rees-Mogg said he was resistant to widening the concession, insisting other MPs must “behave as other key workers do”.

Mr Johnson’s virtual participation comes despite a negative test for coronavirus, but his spokesman said he would self-isolate “in accordance with the rules”.

The prime minister – who was admitted to intensive care with Covid-19 in April – is working from an office in No 10 that he can reach from his flat in No 11 without coming into contact with Downing Street staff.

A government spokesperson said the public was “best served when Parliament meets physically to the fullest extent possible”.

“The [House of Commons] Speaker has worked hard with the House authorities to create a safe Covid-secure workplace for all who need to attend so that, just as teaching and medical professions are working in person to keep the country moving, so are MPs and peers,” they added.

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BBC News – UK Politics