Jacob Rees Mogg faces backlash over 'terrifying' face mask comments

·3 min read
Jacob Rees Mogg answering questions in the House of Commons, London, during a motion on parliamentary proceedings during the pandemic. The motion sets out the need for MPs to vote in person again during the ongoing coronavirus disruption.
Jacob Rees Mogg was defending MPs who decided not to wear a mask in the Commons. (PA)

Jacob Rees Mogg has come under fire after defending the right of MPs not to wear masks in the House of Commons.

Commons Leader Rees-Mogg said in response to SNP criticism of Conservatives not wearing face masks saying that they are not mandatory in Westminster and should be worn if in an enclosed space with people who don't usually meet, which did not apply as MPs see each other regularly.

He was defending health secretary Sajid Javid's recent comments where he said not wearing masks at a cabinet meeting was "perfectly consistent" with the government's advice.

Javid himself came under fire for the comments with Professor John Edmunds, who pointed out to ITV that "you’re most likely to catch infections from people you know". 

Watch: Jacob Rees-Mogg waves a face mask in the air but refuses to wear it

Dr Zubaida Haque criticised Rees Mogg's latest remarks saying misinformation had been a huge problem in the pandemic but "but it's terrifying when it comes from your own government."

She repeated that the most likely way to catch COVID is from someone you know.

The topic was raised by SNP shadow Commons leader Pete Wishart who has complained several times about the lack of face masks on the Tory benches to Rees Mogg.

He said on Thursday the situation was “ now getting beyond a joke, the scenes from a packed PMQs yesterday were simply a disgrace with barely a facemask on a Tory face".

Members of the opposition during a debate on Afghanistan on 6 September.
Members of the opposition wearing masks during a debate on Afghanistan on 6 September. (PA)

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Wishart said staff were getting "increasingly nervous and anxious" about the lack of masks and said the "Tories have absolutely no regard whatsoever about the safety of their colleagues".

He gestured to the government benches, adding: “I don’t normally meet any of you lot and I am quite happy with that situation. I have got no desire to meet you on a regular basis. Yesterday in PMQs this place must have been about the most crowded enclosed space in the whole of the UK."

There have been several instances recently where the Tory benches have been full with very few people wearing masks, whereas MPs on the other side of the house have had a high number of mask wearers.

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Rees Mogg criticised the SNP saying the fact they did not meet other MPs was because "they are not very assiduous in their attendance in the House of Commons" and suggested they work harder.

Opposition MPs jumped on Rees Moggs comments, with Labour MP Anna McMorrin saying his statement "showed complete ignorance of the science".

Labour MP Bill Esterson said: "Most Tory MPs don’t wear masks in crowded places. This is despite government guidance to wear a mask. Rees Mogg just confirmed it’s because they don’t care about infecting other people."

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