Minister says he has ‘no idea where Boris Johnson is’, despite PM sitting metres away from him

Kit Malthouse caught out as prime minister dodges Good Morning Britain interview

Chiara Giordano,Matt Mathers
Tuesday 05 October 2021 15:22
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Tory MP on GMB claims he has 'no idea where Boris Johnson is' only for camera to pan around to find PM in a matter of seconds

A Tory minister was caught out live on television as he claimed not to know where Boris Johnson was – before the camera panned to show the prime minister sitting just metres away.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain from the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, policing minister Kit Malthouse was asked whether the prime minister was honest all of the time, to which he responded: “In my experience, yes he is.

But presenter Susanna Reid challenged his answer, asking: “Are you having to say that because he’s sitting right next to you?”

Mr Malthouse claimed “No, I don’t know, I have no idea where he is” as he shook his head and swept his hand behind him as he apparently looked for the prime minister.

But he was instantly caught out as the camera panned across the room to show Mr Johnson sitting just metres away as he took part in an interview with Times Radio’s chief political commentator Tom Newton Dunn.

GMB host Alastair Campbell, a former Labour spokesman and press secretary, can be heard saying, “There he is, he’s talking to Tom Newton Dunn, ex of The Sun, now of Times Radio, one of Rupert [Murdoch]’s people – and he won’t talk to us,” as Mr Malthouse concedes: “Oh, he’s right there.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse claims to have ‘no idea’ where Boris Johnson is as prime minister sits just metres away from him

In an apparent attempt to regain composure, the minister asked: “Is there any chance we can talk about something of substance and importance to the British people today?

“I realise, Alastair, you’re there to try and make some kind of political point and I’m not sure everybody would regard you as an impartial observer of these matters.

“But if you want to talk about crime or violence or some of those issues, I’m presenting myself to talk to you about that.”

Mr Johnson has not appeared on the ITV programme for more than four years but took part in interviews with BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, LBC and Times Radio on Tuesday.

He declined a request from GMB to appear on Tuesday morning.

Mr Johnson was himself involved in a testy exchange with the BBC’s Nick Robinson on Radio 4’s Today programme, where he was told to “stop talking” as he answered questions about how he plans to fix Britain’s ongoing supply chain and lorry driver crises.

“We are going to have questions and answers — not where you merely talk, if you wouldn’t mind,” Mr Robinson told the PM, who appeared on the flagship show for the first time some two years.

Mr Johnson ended the interview by telling his interviewer: “Very kind of you to let me talk. I thought that was the point of you inviting me on your show.”

The fiery interview could well intensify the Tory party’s war of words with the BBC after Nadie Dorries, the new culture secretary, told a podcast that the corporation might not exist in a decade. She claimed the BBC suffers from “groupthink” and “leftwing bias”, which it denies.

Tory MPs were quick to jump on the PM’s interview with Mr Robinson.

John Redwood, MP for Wokingham, said: “When the PM had a good answer to a question, the BBC Today programme tried to stop him, asking a different question. BBC interviewers should allow an answer and pretend to be interested in the person they are interviewing. They seem to want to impose their view instead.”

Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire, branded the interview “slapstick”. “Trademark BBC rudeness coarsens political debate. Rarely gets ‘gotcha moment’ its overpaid pundits are after,” he tweeted.

Mr Robinson later defended his approach to the interview. He said: “For those listeners who may have been slightly offended by me telling the prime minister to stop talking … the truth is he’s a great communicator [but] he’s not a man who loves the cut and thrust of question and answer always.”

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