MPS have voted against calls for the UK Government to “immediately” commence the Covid-19 public inquiry.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford accused Boris Johnson’s administration of “endemic cronyism” during the pandemic and insisted a thorough investigation of Westminster’s handling of matters should begin right away.

But his motion to change the inquiry’s timetable was rejected by 365 votes to 263, majority 102.

Prime Minister Johnson has previously said an independent public inquiry is due to begin in spring 2022 to enable those involved in responding to the pandemic to focus on the immediate health challenges.

The vote came after a tetchy debate in which Conservative and SNP MPs repeatedly clashed over the Covid-19 response.

Blackford said: “The pandemic has led to opportunism, for greed and for Covid profits above accountability, because this Tory Government is guilty of funnelling Covid cash from the frontline into the pockets of its rich friends.

“We are talking about endemic cronyism during a global pandemic.

“The misuse of funds, Covid profiteers raking in billions of pounds for services which have often been too substandard or irrelevant to the fight against this virus.”

READ MORE: 'Don't lecture us!': Ian Blackford launches tirade against heckling Tories

He added: “Billions of pounds whilst millions in our society have been excluded from any help from this Government.

“The SNP is saying today enough.

“No more dodgy dealings, no more undeclared meetings, no more billion-pound contracts to friends.

“The Prime Minister promised an inquiry into the UK Government’s handling of the pandemic, it must start right now.”

But Health Minister Jo Churchill accused Blackford of a “smear” over his opening remarks.

She said: “As [Blackford] will appreciate, Covid-19 has presented this country with one of the most unprecedented challenges we have ever faced.”

Churchill said Blackford was “well aware of the public contract regulations, which existed before the pandemic, which allowed the Government to procure at speed in times of emergency”.

She added: “And I would very gently say these were the same systems that happened in Scotland, and in Wales.

“We have an unprecedented global crisis and quite rightly people have to use existing regulation which allows them to flex in order to deliver for their populations.”

WATCH: Boris Johnson says £350m Brexit bus figure was an 'underestimation'

Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke told SNP MPs to “grow up” at one stage of the debate.

SNP MP Richard Thomson asked why the UK Government conducted polling on attitudes to the union, adding: “Why were public funds intended for Covid procurement misdirected in order to pay for that polling to take place?”

Shelbrooke said he “despaired” at the debate returning to allegations on polling, adding: “Stop it. Grow up.”

He added the focus of the debate should be on exploring “where things went wrong” and why the inquiry should wait until spring.

Conservative Andrew Bowie also denied he spoke of high rates of coronavirus in Scotland with “braggadocious glee”.

The MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine had hit out at the SNP for criticising the Westminster Government for its tackling of the coronavirus pandemic when he said the party’s Holyrood government was seeing rising case numbers.

“Already leading the content on drugs deaths, Scotland is now leading it in terms of Covid cases contracted,” he said.

“And this is putting at risk Scotland’s own freedom day on August 9.

“This is from a party whose aim, whose leader claimed, that the strategy north of the border was to eradicate Covid.

“That would be incredible, the first country in the world to do it.”

But Alba MP Neale Hanvey said: “It is really quite distasteful to listen to the braggadocious glee from [Bowie] when he celebrates the increased rate of Covid cases in Scotland.”

Raising a point of order, Bowie said: “[Hanvey] has distorted what I said only a few minutes ago.

“Never once, never once did I express any glee at the record number of cases on the SNP’s hands in Scotland, not once.

“I expressed my concern at what is happening in Scotland and he should withdraw that comment.”

Concluding for the Government, Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt said ministers would continue to “reject the distracting, delusional debate” from the SNP.