“One of my children was tested for Covid-19 last weekend after displaying symptoms.
“In accordance with Government guidance, the household has been in self-isolation while we await the test result.”
Explaining the minister’s absence to MPs, Mr Andrew said: “A member of the leader of the House’s household is awaiting a Covid test result after having been symptomatic.
“The leader is therefore self-isolating along with his family.”
Mr Andrew joked he had had the “good fortune” to face MPs to answer questions about forthcoming business and respond to their requests for debates.
For Labour, Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz said: “We all wish the Leader of the House and the whole Rees-Mogg family well, and we know it had to be something very, very serious for him not to be here.”
The Leader of the House was meant to update MPs on the parliamentary schedule set out for the debate of the Internal Market Bill, which has prompted a row with the European Union over their divorce agreement.
The Bill will be debated by Parliament on Monday and proceed through its further stages into the week after.
Mr Andrew told Parliament the Bill would have its second reading, the first opportunity for lawmakers to debate the principle of the Bill, on September 14.
The so-called committee stage, when MPs can discuss any proposed changes to the Bill, will start on September 15 and run until September 22.
The European Commission has called for urgent talks with Britain as the Government set out its plans to override key elements of the Brexit deal signed by Boris Johnson.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she was “very concerned” following the tabling in Parliament of the UK Internal Market Bill, which ministers have admitted will breach international law.
As talks continued in London on a post-Brexit free trade agreement, she said such actions would “undermine trust” and called on the Prime Minister to honour his past commitments.
Her warning came as Sir John Major became the latest senior Conservative to denounce Mr Johnson’s decision to go back on assurances he had made in an internationally binding treaty.
“For generations, Britain’s word – solemnly given – has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct,” the former prime minister said in a statement.
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“Over the last century, as our military strength has dwindled, our word has retained its power. If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.”
Ministers have argued legislation is necessary to protect the Northern Ireland peace process if the two sides are unable to agree a free trade deal before the current Brexit transition period runs out at the end of the year.
However, commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said he was seeking an urgent meeting of the joint EU-UK committee on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to enable the British to “elaborate” on their plans.
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, Mr Sefcovic said he had raised his concerns in a phone call on Tuesday with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove – his co-chair on the committee.
“The Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation and we expect the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement will be fully respected. I think on that we have to be very, very clear,” he said.
In the Commons, Mr Johnson defended the legislation, saying it provided a “legal safety net” to protect against “extreme or irrational interpretations” of the Northern Ireland provisions of the agreement which could lead to the creation of “a border down the Irish Sea”.
Published at Thu, 10 Sep 2020 10:10:00 +0000