No.10 Defends Johnson Skipping Cobra Meetings After He's Pictured In A Fighter Jet

"This prime minister, who has been voted out by his party, having a jolly for six months is treating the British public with contempt, he should go now.”
Boris Johnson in a fighter jet
Boris Johnson in a fighter jet
Downing Street

Downing Street has defended Boris Johnson skipping emergency Cobra meetings after he was pictured flying a fighter jet.

The prime minister did not attend last week’s Cobra meeting on the heatwave and is also set to miss Monday’s meeting too.

However, he has found time to take a ride in an RAF Typhoon fighter jet in pictures and videos released today.

It has sparked criticism from opposition MPs who say he is “missing in action” as the UK is set to experience its hottest day on record, with temperatures forecast to hit up to 41C.

The prime minister’s official spokesman was unable to say what was in Johnson’s diary at the time Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Kit Malthouse chairs a Cobra meeting at 2.30pm on Monday.

The spokesman said: “Kit Malthouse has made the point that he is taking the lead on the government’s response to the heatwave, he’s keeping the prime minister fully briefed including over the weekend when the prime minister also spoke to a number of secretaries of state about the work they are doing.

“And it is not unusual in cabinet government for cabinet ministers to chair these sorts of things.”

Asked about Johnson’s Typhoon flight, the spokesman said: “The Typhoon’s quick alert reaction role is an integral part of both UK and Nato security and the PM does have a specific role in directing RAF action in worst-case scenarios.

“So it is important he is aware of some of these capabilities they have.”

Asked if he needs first-hand experience to understand this, the spokesman said: “It’s important that he has a detailed understanding of the working capabilities of the RAF.”

Selfie footage emerged today of Johnson’s ride in a Typhoon plane on a visit to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire last Thursday.

He can be seen flying alongside the flagship Voyager plane he uses to travel on overseas trips and giving a thumbs up.

Johnson, who has just seven weeks left in office, also held a gathering of his closest allies at his country residence Chequers on Sunday.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said Johnson should be making better use of his time, adding: “The Met Office for the first time ever have issued a level 4 red alert warning, the chief medical officer is advising everybody to be careful as a consequence of this extreme weather, the prime minister is hosting a lavish party at Chequers and obviously going on a joyride on a Typhoon plane.

“That’s not what a prime minister should be doing. And if the prime minister wants to go on a jolly, he should leave Number 10 Downing Street, he should resign and allow the deputy prime minister to be a caretaker prime minister until the Conservatives have chosen their leader.”

He added: “This idea of a prime minister, who has been voted out by his party, having a jolly for six months is treating the British public with contempt, he should go now.”

Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey said: “Boris Johnson has a bad habit of failing to turn up to Cobra meetings, and the fact he still has not learned his lesson is exactly why he is unfit to govern.

“We know why he is still in office, it is because the Conservative party let him stay in office for a few more miserable months of failure.

“People will never forgive the Conservative party for propping Boris Johnson, and their failure to deal with the many crises our country faces.”

The PM told an audience at Farnborough Air Show on Monday: “After three happy years in the cockpit - and after performing some pretty difficult if not astonishing feats... I am now going to hand over the controls seamlessly to someone else.”


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