Rees-Mogg: Tories don't wear masks in Parliament because we are friends

21 October 2021, 17:28

By James Morris

Jacob Rees-Mogg has said Tory MPs don’t wear face masks in the House of Commons because they are friends with each other.

The Commons leader suggested Conservative MPs don’t need coverings because they "know each other" and have a "convivial, fraternal spirit" compared to opposition MPs.

In doing so, he was shooting down health secretary Sajid Javid’s call, made at a Downing Street coronavirus press conference last night, for his Tory colleagues to "set an example" and wear masks in the often-crowded chamber.

Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth later told LBC's Shelagh Fogarty that the "government are all over the shop on this... there are more flip-flops than Boris Johnson's holiday in Marbella".

Rees-Mogg's comments on masks came in a week when Covid infections have continued to rise, and daily reported deaths reached a seven-month high.

Most Tory MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, have chosen not to wear face masks in the Commons since Covid restrictions were lifted
Most Tory MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, have chosen not to wear face masks in the Commons since Covid restrictions were lifted. Picture: Alamy/Getty

Since England’s Covid restrictions were lifted on 19 July, opposition MPs have pointedly continued to wear masks in the Commons – while a vast majority of Tory MPs have not.

Current guidance is to wear masks in crowded and enclosed spaces where individuals "come into contact with people you don't normally meet".

And Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs in the Commons today: "There is no advice to wear face masks in workplaces.

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

Aiming a jibe at SNP counterpart Pete Wishart, who had quizzed Mr Rees-Mogg about Mr Javid’s advice, he joked that "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".

Read more: Health Minister: 'Go ahead' and book Christmas parties but come forward for booster jab

Yesterday, mask-less Tories surrounded Boris Johnson in a packed chamber during Prime Minister's Questions.

Today, however, noticeably more Conservative MPs chose to wear masks in the chamber through the morning's debates – despite it not being packed.

Mr Rees-Mogg, though, did not.