'You Take Us For Mugs': Tory Minister Gets Rinsed On Question Time

A Conservative minister has been taken to task on BBC Question Time for avoiding answering a question about Boris Johnson.

The first question on this week’s edition of the BBC’s flagship politics show, which this week came from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, concerned whether there was “any way back for Boris Johnson” following his probe by MPs over partygate.

Andrew Bowie, representing the government, seemed unwilling to answer the question directly, focussing on how the country now had “a good prime minister in Rishi Sunak”.

But that wasn’t good enough for one audience member, who accused Bowie of trotting out a “party line”.

He added: “I do believe that some of you are intelligent people … but more and more you take us for idiots and mugs.”

After arguing the cost of living crisis, crime and the NHS were the issues the area cared about, he continued: “Forget about how pleased you are that Rishi Sunak is in office and start thinking about doing what you’re there to do.”

Bowie was then asked about Johnson’s future three times by host Fiona Bruce, but the Conservative MP still refused to answer the question, saying the Johnson saga was a “soap opera”.

But the same audience member was not convinced ...

He replied: “Don’t talk to me about a soap opera.

“Boris Johnson was given almost a quarter of a million pounds of public money to defend himself with the most expensive barrister in this country.

“So, you know, it’s absolutely outrageous that people sitting in this audience should they need legal aid might not be able to secure it.

“But Boris Johnson, a multi-millionaire wastrel, is given a quarter of a million pounds to defend himself. It’s a scandal.”

It comes as the privileges committee of MPs is trying to determine whether Johnson deliberately or recklessly misled parliament.

In a televised evidence session that included a series of short-tempered exchanges, the MPs picked apart Johnson’s 52-page defence dossier and public statements on Downing Street rule-breaking.

If a proposal for a 10-day suspension is voted through by MPs, a by-election in Johnson’s seat could be triggered, potentially spelling the end of his parliamentary career.

The ex-PM accepted he misled MPs but said he did not do so “recklessly”, insisting he denied lockdown breaches “in good faith” on the advice of officials, who turned out to be wrong.

Harriet Harman, the Labour chair of the Tory-majority committee, asked whether he could see why they were “a bit dismayed about the flimsy nature” of the assurances.