Boris Johnson’s bruising day: PM faces mutinous Tory MPs amid Owen Paterson and second jobs fury


Boris Johnson admitted that he made a colossal mistake trying to defend lobbying sleaze shame MP Owen Paterson tonight as he faced furious Tory MPs at the end of a bruising day for the Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson met mutinous backbenchers tonight after a torrid few weeks for his party over his attempt to rewrite parliament’s anti-corruption rules.

In a showdown in Westminster he told the 1922 Committee of backbenchers: ‘On a clear road I crashed the car into a ditch.’ 

But MPs present said the mood was sour, with one saying the PM had ‘looked weak and sounded weak’. 

It came at the end of another brutal day trying to douse the burning fires of the sleaze crisis, with Conservatives furious about his ‘back of a fag packet’ crackdown on their outside earnings.

The PM has desperately tried to draw a line under the chaos by pledging to ban politicians from working as consultants on the side after Mr Paterson broke standards rules to act as an advocate for a firm paying him a six-figure salary.  

In a major shift, Mr Johnson also suggested MPs should have limits placed on the time they spend on second jobs – with both changes possibly costing dozens of his own backbenchers significant sums.

He later saw off a Labour motion calling for a ban on ‘any paid work to provide services as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant’. The change was rejected by 282 votes to 231, a majority of 51. 

But MPs backed his plans for a change to the rules on parliamentary jobs after the opposition parties abstained from the vote amid claims he was ‘watering down’ attempts to clean up the Commons.

However a Government spokeswoman said the vote ‘means that MPs will be banned from acting as paid political consultants or lobbyists and that MPs are always prioritising their constituents’. 

The dramatic intervention was intended to outflank Labour amid growing alarm that its attacks on the government over sleaze were hitting home.

Mr Johnson clashed bitterly with Keir Starmer at PMQs this lunchtime, and was later grilled by the Liaison Committee, where he faced questions on sexual harassment law from a Tory MP, Caroline Nokes. The Romsey MP, 49, has accused Mr Johnson’s father Stanley, of inappropriately touching her in 2003. 

He also admitted for the first time that he broke mask rules on a visit to a hospital in Northumberland last week.

 The PM had earlier admitted he knew that Owen Paterson did breach lobbying rules and it was a ‘total mistake’ to try to protect him – but still dodged apologising. 

Owen Paterson

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson (right) made his clearest statement yet on the case that sparked the sleaze storm, conceding it might have ‘helped a bit’ if he had publicly stated earlier that Owen Paterson (left) broke regulations.

Minister’s grovelling apology to standards watchdog ‘came after intervention from PM’s adviser’  

Kwasi Kwarteng apologised for suggesting the Commons standards commissioner should quit after an intervention from the ministerial watchdog, it was revealed today.

Boris Johnson said his ‘collaboration’ with the adviser on ministerial interests Lord Geidt sparked the Business Secretary’s letter saying sorry for his remarks.

The comments came as the PM gave evidence to the powerful Liaison Committee, made up of committee chairs from across parties. 

Mr Johnson repeatedly batted away calls for Lord Geidt to be able to initiate investigations into ministers without his approval.

But he stressed that the peer had been having an impact by referring to his part in the grovelling apology Mr Kwarteng last week. 

‘The process by which the letter was generated was one that included collaboration between me and Lord Geidt,’ he said. 

Mr Kwarteng was widely criticised for suggesting the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should consider her position in the wake of the Owen Paterson row.

It was Ms Stone’s investigation that found the then-Tory MP breached the Commons code of conduct by lobbying ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year.

 

The PM made his clearest statement yet on the case that sparked the sleaze storm, conceding it might have ‘helped a bit’ if he had publicly stated earlier that Mr Paterson broke regulations.

But although he said he ‘regretted’ winding the former Cabinet minister’s fate in with a wider overhaul of the standards system, the premier still stopped short of saying sorry.

The remarks came as Mr Johnson was grilled by MPs on the powerful liaison committee, made up of committee chairs from across parties. 

Mr Johnson was pushed by Home Affairs Committee chief Yvette Cooper to answer categorically whether he thought Owen Paterson had broken the rules.

He said: ‘Yes, and at least that seems to me to… and as I said at the beginning of PMQs two weeks ago, we did not seek to, in any way, minimise the importance of that.’

He said: ‘Frankly I think it is extraordinary that colleagues sometimes do behave in this way.

‘And is it quite right that the commissioner is able to investigate and to hold them to account.’

He added: ‘I’ve accepted that it was a mistake and that it was my mistake.

‘All we wanted to do was to see whether – in view of the particular and frankly tragic circumstances of the case – there was any scope, cross-party agreement, on an appeals process.

‘That was what we were trying to do.’

 Mr Johnson said it was a ‘total mistake’ to think any progress could be made on standards reform in the midst of the Owen Paterson case.

‘It was a total mistake not to see that Owen’s breach of the rules, the former member for North Shropshire’s breach of the rules, made any discussion about anything else impossible, and I totally accept that,’ he said.

The premier insisted he had been convinced there would be cross-party sympathy for Mr Paterson, whose wife had committed suicide. 

‘It was put to me by colleagues that people would feel… indeed I was fortified by the reflection that many people would have felt this was a particularly difficult and sad case.’

He added: ‘The intention genuinely was not to exonerate anybody, the intention was to see whether there was some way in which, on a cross-party basis, we could improve the system.

‘In retrospect it was obviously, obviously mistaken to think we could conflate the two things and do I regret that decision? Yes I certainly do.’

Boris Johnson faces sexual harassment call from Try MP who says his dad smacked her bum

Boris Johnson was told to make public sexual harassment of women a specific criminal offence today – by a Tory former minister who has accused his father Stanley of smacking her backside. 

Caroline Nokes faced down the Prime Minister this afternoon, having previously claimed the now 81-year-old senior Johnson inappropriately touched her in 2003.

Stanley, a former MEP, has also been accused of similar behaviour towards a second woman, a political journalist.

Ms Nokes, 49, a former immigration minister who now chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, questioned the PM today as he faced senior MPs. 

Asked at the session of the Liaison Committee about making sexual harassment a specific offence the PM suggested he would prefer current laws to be better implemented.

It prompted Ms Nokes to reply: ‘You are right to focus on the efforts that are going into increased rape prosecutions, but one of the real challenges is the way women don’t feel confident to come forward and report incidents.

‘Isn’t it fair to say that if public sexual harassment was a specific crime that they could point at, that the police could point at, and indeed that the Crown Prosecution Service could point at, you actually might see women with more confidence to come forward?’

 

Mr Johnson admitted it may have ‘helped a bit’ if he had said Mr Paterson had broken the rules sooner.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Yes, in retrospect, it would… it might have helped a bit if I’d said that I believe that Owen had broken the rules, as far as I could see.’

However, Ms Cooper replied: ‘Every time you say ‘as far as I could see’, ‘well it seems to me’, and you try and qualify it, you are undermining an independent system that we need to work.

‘We need you to have some integrity, we need you to be able to uphold the standards.’

Mr Johnson said: ‘Let me repeat, it was clear to me that he’d broken the rules, that he’d fallen foul of the rules that we have in Parliament.’

Mr Johnson – who is struggling with a heavy cold – has endured another brutal day trying to quell the sleaze crisis with Tories furious about his ‘back of a fag packet’ crackdown on their outside earnings.

The PM has desperately tried to draw a line under the chaos by pledging to ban politicians from working as consultants on the side – something that could cost dozens of his own backbenchers significant sums.

In a major shift, Mr Johnson also suggested MPs should have limits placed on the time they spend on second jobs.

The dramatic intervention was intended to outflank Labour amid growing alarm that its attacks on the government over sleaze were hitting home.

But it immediately threatened to descend into a shambles, with Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan suggesting that 20 hours on a sideline ‘is fine’.

‘Let’s say two shifts, that would be 16 hours a week. Are we saying 10 to 20 hours a week outside your work as an MP and a parliamentarian? If that’s what you chose to do as your choice, that’s fine.’ 

Ms Trevelyan also indicated that former attorney general Geoffrey Cox would not have to curb his £1million a year legal practice under the mooted changes – despite No10 claiming he would. 

‘Key is, is he doing a good job for his constituents? Do they think he’s doing a good job for them? And, from what I’ve heard, no-one has stood up and said otherwise,’ she said.

‘But that he continues to practise what is his professional skill while he is a backbench MP, for me, is perfectly acceptable because in the same way that Maria Caulfield serves in the NHS as a nurse continues to practise her profession alongside serving her constituents is, I think, important for the NHS.’

The proposals have teed up a major showdown with some Tory MPs over whether and how the rules at Parliament should be overhauled. There is muttering that many will decline to turn up for crunch votes on the changes due this evening. 

One backbencher told MailOnline that Downing Street had ‘dreamed up’ another disastrous idea that looked clever at first glance but would not stand up to any scrutiny.

‘I think it’s been put together on the back of a fag packet… It’s the same mistake we made over Owen Paterson,’ they said. 

Mr Johnson clashed bitterly with Keir Starmer at PMQs this lunchtime, before the grilling from the Liaison Committee.

There are crunch votes tonight on how to reform Commons rules, and he will also face the backbench 1922 Committee in a bid to repair relations with his MPs. 

The dramatic intervention was intended to outflank Keir Starmer (pictured today) amid growing alarm that Labour's attacks on the government over sleaze were hitting home

The dramatic intervention was intended to outflank Keir Starmer (pictured today) amid growing alarm that Labour’s attacks on the government over sleaze were hitting home

The government's blueprint immediately threatened to descend into a shambles, with Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan suggesting that 20 hours on a sideline 'is fine'

The government’s blueprint immediately threatened to descend into a shambles, with Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan suggesting that 20 hours on a sideline ‘is fine’

How do the sleaze reform plans being pushed by the PM and Labour compare? 

LABOUR 

Labour’s proposal calls for a ban on ‘any paid work to provide services as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant’.

Crucially, it also includes provisions requiring the Commons Standards Committee to come forward with proposals to implement the ban and guaranteeing time on the floor of the House for MPs to debate and vote on them.

Although it does not feature in the motion, Keir Starmer has also said he wants to ban almost all second jobs – with only limited exceptions such as doctors and nurses.  

TORIES 

The government is trying to amend the Labour motion to push its own overhaul of the standards system. 

The amendment is more vaguely, describing the consultancy ban as ‘the basis of a viable approach’ and supporting the work of the Standards Committee to update the MPs’ code of conduct.

Boris Johnson has called for a ban on political consultancy work, and says he is going further than Labour with restrictions on outside work that distracts from Commons duties.

However, it is unclear how broad the ban would be, and what would count as excessive outside work.   

Boris rows with Speaker and Starmer during bad-tempered PMQs session 

Boris Johnson was today brutally rebuked by the Speaker as he tried to turn the tables on Keir Starmer during a fiery PMQs sessions.

The premier repeatedly tried to grill the Labour leader over his past legal work as the pair clashed over sleaze at the weekly session. 

But Lindsay Hoyle demanded he stop, insisting it is questions to the Prime Minister rather than to the Opposition leader. ‘You might be the PM of this country but in this House I’m in charge,’ Sir Lindsay said.

Sir Lindsay also warned that the bad-tempered discussion was doing nothing to restore the image of the House after the Owen Paterson debacle earlier this month.  

There looked to be fewer Conservative MPs cheering Mr Johnson on in the chamber this afternoon than in recent weeks.   

And the weekly exchanges turned nasty after Mr Johnson attempted to question Sir Keir about links with Mishcon de Reya.

Sir Lindsay told Mr Johnson: ‘I don’t want to fall out about it, I’ve made it very clear – it is Prime Minister’s Questions, it’s not for the Opposition to answer your questions.

‘Whether we like it or not those are the rules of the game that we’re all into and we play by the rules, don’t we? And we respect this House, so let’s respect the House.’

After Mr Johnson attempted to ask again about the issue in a later exchange, the Speaker said: ‘Prime Minister, sit down. I’m not going to be challenged, you may be the Prime Minister of this country but in this House I’m in charge.’

Mr Johnson later accused Sir Keir of ‘Mish-conduct’, which prompted calls from the Labour benches for the comment to be withdrawn.

The Speaker said: ‘I don’t think this has done this House any good today. I’ll be quite honest, I think it’s been ill-tempered, I think it shows the public that this House has not learnt from the other week, I need this House to gain respect but it starts by individuals showing respect for each other.’

Despite the rollocking for Mr Johnson, at the end of the session Sir Keir was pulled up for calling the PM a ‘coward’.

When Mr Johnson again dodged saying sorry for his handling of the Paterson case, Sir Keir said: ‘That’s not an apology. Everybody else has apologised for him, but he won’t apologise for himself. A coward not a leader.’ 

Responding to a point of order, Sir Lindsay said the jibe was ‘not the kind of language’ for the Commons. 

Rising to his feet again, Sir Keir said: ‘I withdraw it. But he is no leader.’ 

Some polls have shown the Opposition taking the lead amid the outcry over Owen Paterson’s lobbying and Geoffrey Cox’s lucrative legal sideline. 

The government wants new rules to introduced in January, assuming an agreement can be reached with Labour. 

But the Opposition has accused the government of ‘dirty tricks’ and trying to water down its rival blueprint.

Ms Trevelyan appeared to get into a muddle during her interviews, initially saying up to 10 hours on a second job was acceptable, before increasing the figure to 15 hours, and then 20 hours. 

‘You do a 40 to 50-hour week, say, as a backbench MP and you do eight to 10 hours work on something else,’ she told Times Radio. ‘For me that would be a perfectly reasonable balance.’ 

On BBC Breakfast the Cabinet minister said: ‘I think there is a common sense test which is if you probably do 40-50 hours a week doing your main job, doing 10 or 15 hours a week doing something else, whatever you choose to do in your spare time, whether that’s paid or not paid, is something that is part of the richness of what you bring as an individual to your role as an MP.’

But later in her round of interviews, Ms Trevelyan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that longer would be reasonable.

Labour’s proposal calls for a ban on ‘any paid work to provide services as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant’.

Crucially, it also includes provisions requiring the Commons Standards Committee to come forward with proposals to implement the ban and guaranteeing time on the floor of the House for MPs to debate and vote on them.

In contrast, the more vaguely worded Government amendment simply describes the consultancy ban as ‘the basis of a viable approach’ and supports the work of the Standards Committee to update the MPs’ code of conduct.

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said it was ‘typical Tory dirty tricks’ and an attempt to water down the proposals. 

The PM’s proposals prompted an immediate backlash from Mr Johnson’s own MPs, who now face losing out on thousands – and in some cases millions – of pounds.

Before Ms Trevelyan’s intervention a Whitehall source claimed the plans were likely to restrict the activities of Sir Geoffrey, who has earned more than £5.5million from his other jobs – including a stint in the British Virgin Islands during lockdown.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the powerful Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, warned of ‘dissatisfaction’ among MPs.

‘Various discussions will be taking place between backbenchers today and the Prime Minister, and I’ve no doubt I will have an opportunity to make my views known,’ he said.

He added: ‘I think I will have more than adequate opportunity to make my views known today.’

He said Mr Johnson ‘wants to get ahead of the curve’ on the debate and is ‘doing the right thing’.

He said: ‘We need to get the rules absolutely clear on what MPs can do, what they can’t do, so that our constituents have an expectation of what the person representing them is going to do.’

Mr Johnson declared that his proposals would ensure MPs who are ‘neglecting their duties to their constituents and prioritising outside interests would be investigated, and appropriately punished by the existing disciplinary authorities’. 

He said it was now ‘imperative that we put beyond doubt the reputation of the House of Commons by ensuring the rules which apply to MPs are up to date, effective and appropriately rigorous.’

He said he would seek a ‘cross-party consensus’ on the issue – prompting fears from some Tory MPs that Labour will ensure new rules are exceedingly tough. 

Tory MPs could lose income worth £1.7m a year under a full consultancy ban

As many as 50 Tory MPs could lose a combined income of £1.7million a year if consultancy work was banned altogether.

Analysis of the Commons Register of Member’s Interests carried out by the Labour Party shows those who stand to lose out.

Name of MP  

     

John Redwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Mitchell

 

 

 

 

 

   

Mark Garnier

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Hammond 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Fuller

 

 

 

 Chris Grayling

 

 Sajid Javid

 

 

Bill Wiggin

 

 

     

John Hayes

 

 

 

   

Julian Smith

 

 

 

 

 Steve Brine

 

 

 

 

David Davis

 

 

 

  

Tim Loughton 

 

   

Kevin Hollingrake

 

  

Nusrat Ghani

 

 

 

 

Alun Cairns

 

 

Iain Duncan Smith

 

 

 

 

Mike Penning

 

   

Jake Berry 

 

 

Damian Green    

 

 

Ruth Edwards

 

 

Daniel Kawczynski

 

 

Edward Leigh

 

 

Natalie Elphicke

 

 

Bim Afolami 

 

 

Mark Pawsey

 

   

Tracey Crouch

 

 

 

Andrew Percy

 

 

 

 Laurence Robertson

 

 

Andrea Jenkyns

 

   

Mark Pritchard

 

 

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown    

 

 

Greg Knight

 

 

 

  Andrew Lewer

 

 

 

 

Graham Brady

 

 

   

Bob Neill 

 

 

 

Philip Dunne

 

 

Andrew Bridgen

   

Liam Fox

   

Crispin Blunt 

 

 

 

 John Howell

 

 

Alex Burghart

 

 

Ben Everitt

 

Amanda Solloway

 

 

Philip Davies

 

 

Daniel Poulter

 

 

Julian Sturdy

 

 

Damian Collins

 

 

Chris Skidmore

 

Russell Dean 

 

Job and firm 

 

Member of the Advisory Board of EPIC Private Equity;

Chairman of Investment Committee of Charles Stanley  

 

Senior adviser to Investec;

Senior adviser to Montrose Associates;

Consultant with Ernst & Young;

Arch Emerging Partners adviser;

Senior adviser on African matters to SouthBridge;

Senior adviser to Kingsley Capital Partners 

 

Principal Speaker for BRI Wealth Management plc;

Advisory Board of Laser Light Communications;

Chair of the Advisory Board of the Shetland Space Centre

 

Chair of the Infrastructure Policy Board, and Joint Chairman of the Policy Board, Public Policy Projects;

Strategic Advisor to Darwin Alternative Investments;

Non- Executive Director, Optibiotix Health plc (life sciences)

 

Chairman of OpSec Security;

Impero Solutions Ltd;

Advisory Director of Investcorp Securities Ltd

 

Strategic Adviser to Hutchison Ports Europe   

 

J.P. Morgan EMEA Advisory Council

Non-executive director of Allpay Limited;

Managing director of Emerging Asset Management Ltd   

 

President of HBSA, which provides technical and vocational education;

Strategic Adviser to BB Energy Trading Ltd

   

Ryse Hydrogen Ltd;

Simply Blue Management (UK) Ltd;

MJM Marine Ltd (marine refurbishment and fitting, property and renewables)

 

Strategic Adviser to Remedium Partners (permanent healthcare recruitment);

Strategic Adviser to Microlink PC;

Strategic Adviser to Sigma (pharmaceuticals)

 

Member of the Advisory Board of THI Holdings GmbH;

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Kohlgartenstrasse 1

   

Adviser to the Board of the Outcomes First Group;

Chairman of the Quality and Safeguarding Board    

 

Director of Hunters Property Plc

 

 

Non-executive Chairman of the Belfast Consortium Supervisory Board of Artemis Technologies Ltd

 

Senior Adviser to BBI Group;

Senior Adviser to Veezu Holdings Ltd;

Adviser to Elite Partners Capital Pte Ltd  

 

Member of the International Advisory Board of Tunstall Health Group Ltd;

Adviser to the Board of Byotrol Technology Ltd

 

Non-Executive Director of JT Consultancy Ltd;

Non-Executive Director of Law Abroad Ltd    

 

Strategic corporate advice to Squire Patton Boggs (law firm)

   

Abellio Transport Holdings (rail and bus operator)         
   

 

Adviser to MHR International UK Ltd

 

 

Consultant providing general advice to The Electrum Group LLC

   

Non-executive director of Europe Arab Bank

 

 

Chair of the New Homes Quality Board  

 

Non-executive director of Apprentify Limited

 

 

Chairman of the Foodservice Packaging Association

 

Independent Non-Executive Director of British Racing’s Horse Welfare Board   

 

 

Advisory Board for Cumberland Strategies;

Advisory Board of Iogen Corporation (Canada)

 

 Parliamentary Adviser on Sport and Safer Gambling to the Betting and Gaming Council

 

Director of the National Centre for Higher Education Policy

 

 

Consultant offering general advice to the Consumer Credit Association (CCA)

 

Partner in East Beckham partnership, engaged in arable farming in Norfolk

 

Adviser on by Cambridge and Counties Bank Ltd

 

Consultant providing public policy advice to Drakelow Development Holdings Ltd;

Advice to Penelope Thornton Hotels Limited;

Senior Counsel to GIN Property Ltd c/o Broughton Lambert Accountants

 

Adviser on communications and marketing strategy to Snowshill Allied Holdings Ltd;

Primary Access and Research

 

Consultant to Weightmans LLP;

Consultant to the Substantia Group        

 

 

Non-Executive Director of Reaction Engines Ltd

 

Adviser to Mere Plantations Ltd

 

WorldPR

   

 

A Director of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians;

Oversight Board Member of Stay Belvedere Hotels Ltd

 

Associate of SP Broadway Ltd (communications company)

 

Non-Executive Director of New Scientist Ltd

 

Strategic adviser, retained via Weble Ltd, to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

 

Director from Amanda Solloway Ltd (learning consultancy)

 

Parliamentary Adviser on Pawnbroking to the National Pawnbroking Association  

 

Non-executive Director of Kanabo Group PLC  

 

G E Sturdy and Son; a farming partnership

 

Member of the Advisory Board of the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society

 

Advisory Board Member, Oxford International Education Group     

 

EPIFNY Consulting Ltd 

 2021 income

   

£194,810

 

 

 

 

 

 

 £115,833

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 £82,500

 

 

 

 

 

 £81,666 

 

 

 

 

£79,899 

 

 

 

 £75,000

 

 £75,000

 

   

£68,058.79

 

 

   

£64,166

 

 

 

 

£64,000

 

 

 

 

 £48,666.00

 

 

 

 

 

 £42,373

 

 

 

£41,249.00 

 

   

£40,333

 

   

£40,000

 

 

 

£37,500 

 

 

   

£37,499

 

 

 

 

£36,660

 

   

£35,000

 

 

£33,333

 

 

£30,000

 

 

£30,000

 

 

£28,500

 

 

£27,000

 

 

£25,000

 

 

£25,000

 

 

£22,500

 

 

 

£20,840

 

 

   

 

£20,000

 

£16,666

 

 

 

£15,000

 

£13,412.75

 

 

£13,333

 

 

 

 £12,300

 

           

 

 

£12,200 

 

 

   

£11,250 

 

     

 

£10,200

 

 

£10,000

 

£10,000

 

 

 

£8,333.46 

 

 

£8,000

 

 

£7,500

 

   

£7,500

 

 

£6,510

 

£6,000

 

 

£6,000

 

 

£5,000

 

 

£4,500  

 

 

£4,166   

 

£2,100 

 

 

Boris Johnson FINALLY apologises for failing to wear a face mask while visiting a hospital but insists he broke the rules for ‘barely 30 seconds’

Boris Johnson today finally apologised for failing to wear a mask during a visit to a hospital last week – but insisted he broke the rules for ‘barely 30 seconds’. 

The Prime Minister was criticised after he was photographed without a face covering during a trip to Hexham General Hospital. 

He insisted on Monday this week that he wears a mask wherever he is required to under coronavirus guidance as he declined to apologise. 

But the premier did say sorry this afternoon as he was grilled by Parliament’s powerful Liaison Committee. 

Boris Johnson today finally apologised for failing to wear a mask during a visit to a hospital last week - but insisted he broke the rules for 'barely 30 seconds'

Boris Johnson today finally apologised for failing to wear a mask during a visit to a hospital last week – but insisted he broke the rules for ‘barely 30 seconds’

The Prime Minister was criticised after he was photographed without a face covering during a trip to Hexham General Hospital

The Prime Minister was criticised after he was photographed without a face covering during a trip to Hexham General Hospital

It emerged that Mr Johnson had to be reminded by NHS staff last week to put on a mask after he posed with nurses without a face covering.

Mr Johnson was questioned on the issue by senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper and he said: ‘As for not wearing a mask in Hexham hospital, which you wrap up into my general litany of crime, can I just say that actually it was barely 30 seconds when I wasn’t wearing a mask.

‘I walked out of a room, mistakenly not wearing it. I then put it on as soon as I realised I had made that mistake.

‘I apologise for it. But most pictures of my visit to the hospital will show that I was duly masked throughout the remainder of the visit and I was masked on the way into the visit and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to clear that up.’ 

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Monday, a croaky Mr Johnson, who is suffering from a cold, said adhering to mask rules was ‘the responsible thing to do’.

‘I wear a mask wherever the rules say I should and I urge everyone else to do the same,’ he said.

‘People have actually seen me wearing face coverings quite a bit more regularly as we have seen the numbers (of infections) ticking up in the UK.

‘I think that is the responsible thing to do and I am going to continue to do it.’

After Mr Johnson went to Northumberland last week Chronicle Live reported that staff had to remind him to replace his mask.

Mr Johnson had to be reminded by NHS staff last week to put on a mask after he posed with nurses without a face covering

Mr Johnson had to be reminded by NHS staff last week to put on a mask after he posed with nurses without a face covering

He is believed to have taken it off to do television interviews before the pictures were taken.

Hospital management insisted that he had ‘followed strict measures, including wearing a mask, in each clinical area he visited.’

But rules for visitors posted on the hospital’s website tells them to ‘wear a face covering when you enter the hospital until you leave’.  



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