Jake Berry had said it was important to maintain “certain standards” in public life as he attacked Matt Hancock’s handling of the Covid pandemic.
Leaked WhatsApp messages show the former health secretary considered withholding funding for a disabled care center from a Tory MP if he rebelled in a vote on lockdown rules.
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Berry, who has a son with additional needs, said Hancock was “an absolute disgrace” and should be hauled before the Commons to explain himself.
On Radio Four’s Today program this morning, Nick Robinson also asked him about the furor over Johnson’s decision to put his father, Stanley, on his resignation honors list.
The presenter said: “Given your stress on maintaining certain standards, and you said some things are acceptable in public life and some are not, I presume you are not in favor of retiring prime ministers giving a knighthood to their dad?”
Berry replied: “Well, who is on Boris Johnson’s honors list is a matter for Boris Johnson. I haven’t seen the list, I’ve seen that widely reported.”
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Robinson then hit back: “You’ve just told us there are certain standards in public life and some things are acceptable or not.
“Is it acceptable to give a knighthood to your dad after many of your own ministers have quit because you’re not considered fit to be prime minister?”
After Berry repeated his claim that he does not know who is on Johnson’s honors list, the presenter said: “I’m not asking you who’s on the list, I’m asking you whether it’s acceptable or not.”
Berry responded: “You are, you’re asking me about his father. I don’t know whether his father is on the list.”
Robinson then asked: “Just one last try. Why is this a difficult question?”
Berry replied: “It’s not particularly a difficult question, but I think there is a good rule in politics that you don’t get into commenting on honors of any kind because it is ultimately a matter for the King and, as I say, I’m more than happy to come on and answer any questions you may have once that list is public.”
Berry, a former Tory Party chairman, is one of Johnson’s strongest defenders and has led the charge in criticizing Sue Gray’s decision to quit the civil service to become Keir Starmer’s chief of staff.
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He said the whole affair showed Starmer was “a man of the establishment”.
In an apparent reference to Johnson, he said: “The people who I represent in Lancashire want a disrupter who cares about the things that matter for them, not an SW1 civil service type of government,” he said.
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