Good Morning Britain: Minister admits not having Johnson’s phone number amid Dyson ‘sleaze’ row

‘Of course they don’t hand them out willy-nilly’, minister insists

Minister admits not having Johnson’s phone number amid Dyson ‘sleaze’ row

A government minister has admitted to not having Boris Johnson's phone number while facing questions about the prime minister's texts to the billionaire businessman James Dyson amid a wave of "sleaze" allegations being levelled at Downing Street.

During an interview with Good Morning Britain on Friday, culture and digital minister, Caroline Dinenage was asked why certain people had Mr Johnson's phone number but others didn't.

"Of course they don't hand them out willy-nilly, and I'm not even sure I have got the prime minister's number, to be honest with you," Ms Dinenage said when asked if the prime minister shares his contact details too freely.

"We are talking about someone who is one of the top British businesspeople in the world," she added.

The Gosport MP was then pressed on whether she herself had Mr Johnson's phone number. She scrolled through her contacts, before saying: "No, I don't have it."

The minister's embarrassing disclosure comes days after it emerged that Mr Johnson in a text message promised to "fix" tax changes requested by Mr Dyson, the Dyson hoover maker and entrepreneur, who had pledged to make ventilators for the UK at the outset of the pandemic.

He wanted assurances that his staff would not face payments if they moved to the UK to work on the project. Mr Dyson's ventilators were never used.

And last week it was revealed that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, texted the prime minister asking him to intervene after the Premier League rejected his attempts to buy Newcastle United football club.

Mr Johnson reportedly asked Edward Lister, his special envoy for the Gulf, to take up the issue, although the Premier League decision was not reversed.

The prime minister has defended his texts with Mr Dyson, saying he makes "no apology" for attempting to secure ventilators at the outset of the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Johnson told the Commons during Prime Minister's Questions earlier this week that he was "happy to share all the details" of the exchanges as there is "nothing to conceal".

"I make absolutely no apology at all for shifting heaven and earth and doing everything I possibly could, as I think any prime minister would in those circumstances, to secure ventilators for the people of this country," he added.

Meanwhile, a government spokesperson previously said the proposed sale of Newcastle United was a "commercial matter" and that the government was not involved at any point.

Labour has said the recent revelations showed a culture of “favours, privileged access, tax breaks for mates” at the heart of government which was not available for steelworkers facing redundancy, self-employed businesses at risk of bankruptcy or NHS staff needing a pay rise.

On Thursday, Downing Street ordered an inquiry into the leak of his private texts with Mr Dyson. It came less than 24 hours after No 10 said no investigation would be launched.

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