"If I can return to work, why can't they?" Teacher calls out MPs worried about Westminster return

2 June 2020, 16:23 | Updated: 2 June 2020, 16:24

By Seán Hickey

This teacher wondered why MPs are embroiled in a debate as to whether or not they should return to Westminster while schools were advised to reopen.

Angela is a secondary school teacher and joined Shelagh Fogarty in the midst of a vote in parliament which would force MPs to be present for votes and would effectively force shielding and at-risk MPs to travel to Westminster unnecessarily.

The caller told Shelagh that her school is currently in the planning stage of trying to get year 10s back into school following the reopening of schools and assured listeners that "at no time would I expect hundreds of MPs to be sitting in the house of commons together."

"If we're expected to have over 100 kids back together and were expected to just figure it out, surely, surely they should also be able to do it" Angela told Shelagh, dismissing the worries of some MPs in returning to Westminster.

She went further to wonder "why can't there be a combination" of home working and working in the House of Commons. She pointed out that she currently works half in the school and half at home and wondered why parliament can't do the same.

The caller wondered why MPs couldn't follow in the steps of teachers
The caller wondered why MPs couldn't follow in the steps of teachers. Picture: PA

Angela told Shelagh that her head teacher is ensuring that the teaching staff feel as safe and secure in their environment as pupils. She asked "why can another group of adults highly educated, highly experienced, highly skilled not find a way to make this work."

Shelagh disagreed with Angela, pointing out that it isn't as easy as she was making it out to be. Shelagh added that the beginning of the issue comes when MPs are asked to travel from their constituency, this is an issue before you count whether or not an MP is an at-risk individual. They are then expected to "be present in Westminster in the busiest city in the country." "That is very different to what you're describing."

Angela argued that "they don't need to be in their constituency to support their constituents" and hinted that politicians generally have second homes in London, so they could stay there while working in the House of Commons. Shelagh went back to argue the corner of at-risk MPs, wondering how they would be "expected to stand in a long queue for half an hour" and maintained the idea was ridiculous.

The caller insisted that "you do not have to have MPs all lining up in a social distanced way to vote at exactly the same time" somewhat agreeing with Shelagh and fell back on her suggestion of a combination of home working and working at the workplace.

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