Boris Johnson refuses to commit to wearing a mask in Parliament as Covid cases rise

22 October 2021, 18:04

Like many MPs - particularly Conservative ones - Boris Johnson has not been wearing a mask in the House of Commons
Like many MPs - particularly Conservative ones - Boris Johnson has not been wearing a mask in the House of Commons. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Boris Johnson has refused to commit to wearing a face covering in Parliament despite an appeal by Health Secretary Sajid Javid for Tory MPs to mask up when they are in the House.

After Conservative MPs were seen crammed on the Commons benches, almost all with faces bare, Mr Javid urged them to set an example to the public in order to avoid the need for tighter Covid restrictions over the winter.

But speaking to reporters during a visit to a vaccination centre in West London, Mr Johnson sidestepped a question about whether he would now wear a mask in Parliament, in line with Government guidance.

Read more: Boris Johnson uses £2.6m briefing room... to watch James Bond film

Read more: Raab: Ex-cons will be trained to pull pints to help hospitality 'thrive' this Christmas

"I think there are lots of steps that we need to take to continue to follow the guidance," he said.

"So commonsensical things, washing your hands, wearing a mask in confined spaces where you are meeting people that you don't normally meet.

"That's sensible."

It comes after House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said Conservative MPs in the House of Commons do not need to wear masks because they are friends with each other.

He said they "know each other" and have a "convivial, fraternal spirit" - unlike opposition MPs, he claimed.

"There is no advice to wear face masks in workplaces," Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs.

Read more: MPs offered security guards amid safety fears in wake of Sir David Amess murder

Read more: Over 100 MPs make pre-budget plea for Rishi Sunak to slash beer duty

"The advice on crowded spaces is... with people you don't know. We on this side know each other."

He then took aim at his SNP counterpart, Pete Wishart, saying: "It may be that the honourable gentleman doesn't like mixing with his own side… but we on this side have a more convivial, fraternal spirit, and therefore are following the guidance of Her Majesty's Government".

Scientists advising the Government have warned that the failure of public figures to follow guidance risks undermining public trust.

"Trust can be eroded by unclear and inconsistent messaging (and) Government officials and role models not engaging in behaviours in line with guidance," read a paper by the Spi-B group of behavioural scientists.

Read more: Queen spent night in hospital after having to cancel trip, Buckingham Palace says

Read more: GPs threaten industrial action over Govt plans for face-to-face appointments

Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth yesterday told LBC that the "Government are all over the shop on [masks]".

He added: "There are more flip-flops than Boris Johnson's holiday in Marbella."