Coronavirus news live: New COVID variant described as ‘worrying’ by expert

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Fleur Anderson has pressed the Government on a report from non-profit Transparency International, which “identified 73 COVID contracts that raised red flags for corruption”. She appeared in the House of Commons to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay, and Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis a question.  She said: “After 18 months of deflecting and secrecy, the list of those companies awarded contracts through the VIP lane was finally revealed and we can see now why it was kept secret.

“It is curious that after recommendations from politicians to that list, only Conservative recommendations were successful, no other political party.” Mr Ellis claimed Ms Anderson “is conveniently forgetting that Labour members of Parliament also recommended individuals, as far as PPE is concerned”. He went on: “There is nothing wrong with that because there was a national emergency at the time and everyone was asked to assist, and if they knew someone who might be able to assist in supplying personal protective equipment they were invited to say so. 

“Not only is there nothing wrong with that but it was a public service to do so.”