Jacob Rees-Mogg has House of Commons in stitches as he mocks SNP chief in brilliant swipe

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The leader of the House of Commons mocked SNP’s Tommy Sheppard after his video link broke during questioning. Mr Rees-Mogg said it was a “great pity” MPs could not see his face. Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “Can I just apologise that no picture was put up of the SNP spokesman when the line’s gone down. The sound quality is good but you’re just a blank at the moment.”

In response to Mr Sheppard’s questions, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “It is a great pity we could not see the honourable gentleman’s great countenance cheering us all up and bringing sweetness and light to this chamber which he does on a weekly basis.”

MPs in the house began laughing at his comments.

The moment came after Labour claimed two classes of MPs have been created by the Government’s refusal to allow contributions to Commons debates via Zoom, Labour has claimed.

Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz pressed for the return of remote voting before warning of the difficulties faced by those who are being “careful and responsible” by not attending the chamber.

MPs can contribute via Zoom to oral questions, urgent questions and ministerial statements but not debates, including on legislation.

Ms Vaz said: “Effectively, I don’t know what it is about this Government but they are obsessed with tiers – we’ve got two tiers of honourable members, or you could say two classes of honourable members, which is not right and not fair.”

Proxy voting has been extended to all MPs to try to ease numbers in the division lobbies, but virtual voting was dropped by the Government after it was briefly used earlier this year.

MP numbers in the Commons have been limited to 50, while some are shielding at home for their own protection and the protection of others.

Mr Rees-Mogg replied to Ms Vaz: “It is so important that we are here to do our job, that we’re here to debate, to challenge.

“(Ms Vaz) says there are some members who can’t be here for debate – and I recognise that and I sympathise with them, but they are debates, that is the point.

“We have seen how many times somebody comes on to complain that they can’t come here and the connection goes down.

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“We have seen in the House of Lords remote voting fail so business doesn’t happen.”

Shouts of “Once” emerged from the Labour benches, to which Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “Once and you lose a day’s business and you have to do it all again, whereas we have a system that is tried and tested and works, and means people are leading by example.

“We expect teachers to be teaching, we expect MPs to be voting, we expect people to do their job at their place of work when they can’t do it from home.

“We cannot be a proper scrutinising legislature without being here in person and that is of fundamental importance.”

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