Naga Munchetty grills MP on ‘common sense’ mask rule after admitting he forgot to wear one

Edward Argar says he may have ‘forgotten’ face mask at times

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Naga Munchetty spoke to Health Minister Edward Argar on Thursday’s BBC Breakfast after Sajid Javid warned the British public to take precautions to reduce the spread of Covid-19 to avoid further restrictions being put in place. However, the BBC presenter hit out at the Health Minister over footage of Conservative MPs not wearing face masks in the House of Commons. 

Munchetty began: “You were in the Commons this week for Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday – is that correct?”

“I wasn’t I’m afraid I was in a meeting about this actually,” Argar replied. 

“That makes this even more interesting when you look at the pictures one side of the House barely any masks being worn, on the other side masks being worn. 

“Sajid Javid was asked about this yesterday and he [was asked] is there a difference between what the Government is telling people to do and the behaviour of some senior public figures.”

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“Mr Javid said that’s a very fair point, ‘We have a role to play to set an example as private individuals as well.’ I think that’s a fair point and a lot of people will have heard you,” she added.

“Will you be wearing a face mask the next time you’re in the Commons?”

“Well if you look at health questions which I think was on the Tuesday I did when I was sitting on the bench and not answering questions,” the MP replied. 

“There would have been times when I didn’t, where I thought I was either going to get up and answer a question or I had answered one and sat down and forgot to put it back on.”

“You will have seen in those pictures [I was wearing a mask] for a chunk of that sitting,” he continued. “I try to but I try to exercise judgement.”

“Do you think your colleagues should as you said it’s not a fully ventilated place there are lots of people sitting around and talking we know that’s how droplets pass and how the virus spreads?” Munchetty questioned.

“The chamber is a very big place but I come back to my point it’s about everyone considering the guidance and forming an informed view,” he answered.

“I know colleagues weigh up a number of factors but that’s a judgement.”

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BBC Breakfast viewers weren’t impressed with Argar’s response on whether MPs should lead by example and wear face coverings in the House of Commons. 

Saroj Jassal tweeted: “@TVNaga01 It was a good interview with the Health Minister especially about wearing masks.”

“Utterly bemused, depressed and angry listening to Edward Argar Health Minister stating people should wear masks in crowded non-vent spaces then wriggling out of why MPs choose not to in the House of Commons! This is not leadership! @BBCBreakfast,” Disha Dance shared.

Donna Hillis added: “@BBCBreakfast @TVNaga01 maybe if masks were recommended plan B wouldn’t need to be put in place and yes they should lead by example which [the] Government aren’t doing at this time #healthminister.”

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Gill Slessor argued: “#WearAMask Government ministers need to heed their own advice about wearing masks… It’s very much a case of ‘do as I say not as I do’ at the moment… Edward Argar rightly squirming on BBC breakfast – he’s the Health Minister for heaven’s sake!”

Lionel Stanbrook shared: “#BBCBreakfast Edward Argar, UK health minister, insisting that the NHS can cope through the winter, confirming that views of NHS staff don’t count in this assessment. 

“Should MPs be wearing masks in the HoC? ‘It’s all about judgement’.”

BBC Breakfast airs on BBC One daily at 6am.

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