PMQs: Rishi Sunak says he was left 'shocked' by Baroness Michelle Mone PPE contract allegations

Rishi Sunak has declared it was “absolutely right” that Tory peer Baroness Michelle Mone had taken a leave of absence from the House of Lords with immediate effect, as the Prime Minister claimed he was “shocked” at allegations against her.

Reports – denied by Lady Mone – have suggested the peer may have profited from PPE Medpro winning public contracts worth more than £200 million to supply equipment after she recommended it to ministers in the early days of the pandemic.

It is alleged the Scottish peer, who founded lingerie firm Ultimo, and her children secretly received £29m originating from the profits. Lady Mone claims the accusations had been “unjustly” levelled against her.

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Mr Sunak’s press secretary confirmed Lady Mone had lost the Tory whip, but clarified this only happened “by default” when she decided to take a leave of absence.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves number 10 Downing Street ahead of the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images

She suggested Mr Sunak had not cut the peer adrift, saying: “I wouldn’t characterise it as that.”

Asked at Prime Minister’s Questions how Lady Mone had “ended up” with the alleged £29m, Mr Sunak responded: "Like everyone else, I was absolutely shocked to read about the allegations.

"It’s absolutely right that she is no longer attending the House of Lords and therefore no longer has the Conservative whip. The one thing we know about him is he is a lawyer, he should know there is a process in place.

"It is right that that process concludes. I hope that it is resolved promptly.”

Sir Keir countered: “Everyone can see what’s happening here. A Tory politician got their hands on hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ money and then provided duff PPE and he says he’s shocked? He was the chancellor, he signed the cheques. How much is he going to get back?”

The Lords’ standards watchdog is investigating Lady Mone over her alleged involvement in procuring contracts for PPE Medpro, although this has been paused “while the matter is under investigation by the police or another agency as part of a criminal investigation”.

Lady Mone has consistently denied any “role or function” in the company, and her lawyers have previously said she is “not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity”.

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Lady Mone’s spokesman said she was taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords “to clear her name of the allegations that have been unjustly levelled against her”.

Downing Street said her decision meant she automatically lost the Tory whip.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: “She’s taken a leave of absence therefore, by default, she has not got the Conservative whip any more.”

Ministers have committed to release documents to MPs surrounding the award of contracts to the PPE Medpro firm.

Mr Sunak had earlier accused Sir Keir at PMQs of engaging in “petty personality politics” as the Prime Minister was attacked over a new deal on housing.

Sir Keir, the Labour leader, opened with a question about housing targets, pointing out the UK Government had previously promised to build 300,000 houses a year.

He said Mr Sunak broke the promise this week "without asking a single voter" by scrapping mandatory building targets.

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The public audit committee has confirmed the Government is unlikely to meet its housebuilding targets, falling short by 32,000 homes from its original 2016 and 2021 goals for affordable homes.

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