A cabinet minister has complained that asking Boris Johnson what his own lockdown rules are is “gotcha” questioning.
Business secretary Alok Sharma accused BBC Radio 4′s Today programme of behaving like a “quiz show” for expecting the prime minister to be able to explain the law.
Johnson yesterday was forced to apologise for being unable to answer a direct question about the tough lockdown imposed on the north east of England.
He also claimed the “rule of six” governing how many people can meet up together applied indoors but not outdoors.
Labour accused the PM of being “grossly incompetent” after he admitted the rules were “confusing”.
Sharma told Today: “There is an element of slightly ‘gotcha’ about this in terms of this line of questioning.
“You are a flagship programme when it comes to serious news and it is not a quiz show.”
Alex Norris, Labour’s shadow health minister, said Johnson should be able understand the rules he is asking huge numbers of people to follow.
“That’s not a gotcha, that’s just basic government competence,” he said.
Johnson will this afternoon lead a press conference after the UK recorded the highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the outbreak began.
He will be joined by chief medical officer for England professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance in what will be the 100th coronavirus briefing since the pandemic hit the UK.
As of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 7,143 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK – the highest daily figure recorded since the outbreak began, although far more tests are being carried out than in the spring.
Johnson also has trouble on his own backbenches. More than 50 Tories have backed an amendment calling for parliament to be given a greater say over the use of lockdown measures.
MPs are set to vote on the renewal of the Coronavirus Act’s powers in the Commons today,
Tory MPs expect ministers to offer concessions to parliament in order to avoid a damaging defeat.
Graham Brady, chair of the influential Tory 1922 Committee and the rebels’ ringleader, said there was “likely to be an accommodation reached” because “they knew we have the numbers”.