Surreal Moment New Minister Just Stays Silent When Questioned On BBC Breakfast

People are calling it the "most honest answer yet from a Tory MP".
Simon Clarke, the new housing secretary, had a peculiar response to a question on BBC Breakfast this morning
Simon Clarke, the new housing secretary, had a peculiar response to a question on BBC Breakfast this morning
BBC Breakfast

The newly-appointed levelling up secretary Simon Clarke just decided not to answer an important question about levelling up during an interview on Thursday.

Clarke, who was confirmed as a member of Liz Truss’ cabinet on Tuesday, seemed quite stumped when he was faced about what the Conservatives have actually achieved during their time in office.

BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt asked the new minister: “If you look at a couple of the markers for levelling up – which frankly a lot of people don’t really understand the principle of – say, you look at child poverty, or in-work poverty, which of those markers have the Tories, in 12 years, been successful in helping?”

Cue a long, and painful, silence where Clarke just stares into the camera, giving no indication that he has been asked a question.

Stayt replied: “OK, I’m sorry, maybe you didn’t hear that question, I’ll repeat it again.”

Stayt repeated the question, slowly, Clarke did eventually jump into action.

He began: “Well, we’ve had to deal with an extraordinary series of challenges over the course of the 12 years that the Conservative Party has been in office.

“Often, clearly faced with a very difficult parliamentary arithmetic as well.”

For context, Conservatives secured a landslide victory with an 80-seat majority in 2019.

The 2017 general election saw the Tories lose its small overall majority, but the party remained in government as a minority, using the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland to prop it up.

In the 2015 general election, the Conservatives secured a small majority, and in 2010, the Tories led a hung parliament with the Liberal Democrats.

So, will the Tories have not always had a majority over the last 12 years, it has always been the largest party in parliament.

Clarke continued: “Let’s be absolutely clear that levelling up sits at the heart of our work in office. I represent a constituency on Teeside which does have very deep pockets of deprivation.

“Communities like mine have put their faith in this government precisely because they recognise the opportunity and enterprise needs to sit at the heart of our policies.”

Levelling up was at the centre of Boris Johnson’s manifesto when he led the Conservative Party to victory in 2019, but Truss is expected to sideline the matter during her premiership.

During her leadership campaign, she briefly proposed a regional pay policy, although she quickly U-turned, and has criticised looking at the economy “through a lens of redistribution” of wealth.

Instead, she wants to “cut taxes and grow our economy”.


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