PMQs returns in first day of ‘virtual’ Parliament

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will face Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Prime Minister’s Questions will return at midday as the Commons carries out its first day as a virtual Parliament.

Boris Johnson is still recovering from coronavirus, but Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, acting as the PM’s deputy, will take his place.

He will face Sir Keir Starmer in his first PMQs as the new Labour leader – and his first appearance in the Commons since becoming leader of the party.

The first question will be asked over video link by Tory MP Alex Stafford.

It comes after MPs approved a motion on Tuesday to allow for a new “hybrid” Parliament amid the coronavirus outbreak.

As a result, the number of MPs in the chamber has been limited to 50 – sitting apart from each other in line with social distancing guidelines.

Screens have been installed in the chamber which will allow up to 120 MPs to take part in debates via the Zoom video-conferencing tool.

The new arrangements will initially operate until 12 May, although could remain in place for longer.

Some MPs raised concerns about the new format during Tuesday’s debate, such as being able to get into the Chamber to ask questions on behalf of constituents and worries about how long the measures would last.

But Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said: “We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

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Media captionJacob Rees-Mogg: “What we are doing is part of trying to save lives”

After PMQs, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will make a statement to the House on the ongoing pandemic.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, will ask questions over video from home.

But the former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is expected to be in the chamber to asks questions on his return to the backbenches.

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