ALISTAIR Carmichael has called on the UK Parliament to adopt new remote working procedures during the coronavirus crisis or “risk democracy” as MPs from far-flung constituencies could find it increasingly difficult to commute to Westminster.

The plea from the former Scottish Secretary, who represents Orkney and Shetland, comes as MPs from across the House of Commons have raised concerns about their ability to commute to London to undertake essential work.

Offering himself as an example, the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip explained that travel restrictions meant today he would be taking a train, a hire car and ferry to get back to his constituency in Orkney.

He is urging MPs to back his proposal for the Commons to adopt an expanded Liaison Committee on the New Zealand model, including all parties and chaired by a senior opposition MP.

“Forms of remote working will always have limitations but if the choice is between that and risking democratic representation for constituencies outside of London, there is no choice at all. It is time for everyone to drop their resistance to electronic methods of working,” declared Mr Carmichael.

He argued that if MPs were going to tell everyone else in the country to work from home in the name of public health, then they should be leading by example.

“The question is not whether we can be exactly as effective as we would be under normal circumstances; the question is whether we can ensure the essential requirements of our democracy – that the Government be held to account – while acting responsibly to protect public health.”

Mr Carmichael added: “The Prime Minister himself held a Cabinet meeting this week by video conference. If it is good enough for the PM, then it is good enough for the rest of us, as a temporary measure.

“The New Zealand example shows us that a special committee is an effective way to bring all parties together and ensure accountability despite the crisis.”