POLITICS
13/10/2021 09:41 BST | Updated 13/10/2021 09:51 BST

Minister Skewered Over WFH Comments After Johnson Pictured Painting In Marbella

Oliver Dowden was asked: "He’s not heeded your advice, why should the country?”

LUDOVIC MARIN via Getty Images
“He’s not heeded your advice, why should the country?”

A cabinet minister was skewered over his criticism of civil servants working from home after his boss was pictured painting in Marbella. 

Oliver Dowden insisted Boris Johnson is still working while on holiday after newspapers ran photographs of the prime minister painting at an easel.

But it left the Conservative Party co-chairman facing questions over his own comments he had made about civil servants.

Dowden recently said: “People need to get off their Pelotons and back to their desks.”

The ex-culture secretary went on to say civil servants working from home should “lead by example” by returning to the office.

Dowden told LBC the prime minister was working in Spain and was “very much engaged with the issues of the day”.

But host Nick Ferrari put his Peloton comments to Dowden, adding: “I look at my papers and Mr Johnson is not at all at his desk, he’s at home painting, not on his Peloton, he’s in his luxury villa.

“So he’s not heeded your advice, why should the country?”

Dowden insisted Johnson had been at his desk throughout this “entire crisis” and “pretty much every day since he became PM”.

He added: “He’s got another baby on the way, he had Covid, he’s had all sorts of challenges and sadly he’s lost his mother. He is working from his holiday home...”

Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images
Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden 

Pressed over why the PM did not have to be at his desk but the rest of the country did, Dowden replied: “The reason why I said those comments is because I lost count of the number of small businesses in my constituency and up and down the country who were saying to me - how can I get people into the office full stop, not just for a day, but to come in at all if the government doesn’t lead by example.

“I think the government needs to lead by example.”

He said the UK had “outstanding” civil servants and they did not want people “chained to your desk” nine to five. However, he said it was important for people’s mental health and creativity.