Boris Johnson jokes virus restrictions will spare public Christmas with the in-laws, report claims
Boris Johnson joked coronavirus restrictions would mean families could escape their in-laws at Christmas as he attempted to make the case for further lockdowns to sceptical MPs.
The prime minister met with the 1922 committee – an influential grouping of backbench tory MPs – to garner support for his coronavirus response ahead of the introduction of a three-tiered system of local restrictions across the country.
The meeting, which was held virtually, comes amid anger from rank and file Tories over the lack of scrutiny applied to coronavirus measures – a growing discomfort that almost spilled into open hostility last month when the committee’s chair Sir Graham Brady threatened to lead a revolt against key virus legislation.
Meanwhile politicians from the libertarian wing of the party have repeatedly called for lockdowns to be scrapped altogether.
Addressing the committee – a meeting which would typically be accompanied by raucous cheers and banging on tables in shows of support – Mr Johnson made a number of jokes that fell flat with the party faithful, Bloomberg reports.
Alongside arguing the rule of six would allow people to avoid their in-laws over Christmas, Mr Johnson is understood to have dismissed calls from his predecessor Theresa May to have voices from the world of business accompany the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Explaining to the nation’s second female prime minister that SAGE was a group specifically for scientists, he went on to quip that to add a ‘B’ for business would be too phonetically close to ‘beige’.
However the publication, which cited three officials with awareness of the PM’s comments, said he was able to garner more support while comparing the leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer’s coronavirus response to an out of control supermarket trolley.
However while attempting to charm those on his backbench, the PM lost the faith of one of his junior ministers – with parliamentary private secretary to the ministry for Education Chris Green resigning his post.
The member for Bolton West, which is to be placed in a tier two lockdown, said he believed “that the cure is worse than the disease” when it came to government policy.