A Tory minister has admitted she does not know what lockdown restrictions were being applied in North East England during an interview on national radio.
Apprenticeships minister Gillian Keegan said she was unaware of what restrictions were in place across the North East because she was not a local MP.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Keegan was asked if people in areas where new lockdown measures were being tightened could continue to book a table at a restaurant or meet with another households in a pub garden.
Keegan, who was heard umm-ing and ah-ing, said she could not “clarify” the statement.
“I know that in the rest of the country, generally, you can meet in a pub and you can book a table and the restrictions are indoors.”
When asked if she had the answer, Keegan replied, bluntly: “No, I don’t know the answer to that question. I just don’t have the details for those seven areas.”
The presenter shot back: “If you can’t give us the answer to that then how do you expect people to keep up to date with the latest rules when even you as a government minister can’t answer that question.”
“I’m sorry I can’t answer that question” Keegan responded, adding: “I’m sure there are many people who could. I don’t represent the North East.”
The presenter interjected: “But you’re a government minister and you’re on the air this morning and this is a new restriction coming into place this evening.”
Keegan chimed in: “It will be laid out and clear for everyone in those areas. It will be communicated clearly what they are.”
She then said she would rather admit she did not know than give out the wrong information.
The Sun political editor Harry Cole tweeted: “Oh god… tough listening on R4 as Gillian Keegan gets filleted on North East regs. That was brutal.”
Oh god… tough listening on R4 as Gillian Keegan gets filleted on North East regs. That was brutal.
— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) September 29, 2020
One user wrote: “Absolute car crash. Makes Helen Whately look competent.”
“At least she didn’t try and pretend she did know the answer,” wrote Stephen Ridgway, a media lawyer.
This is not the first time Keegan has come under fire. In August, she was criticised for being on holiday during the A-Levels fiasco.
She defended herself by saying she was not the minister responsible for A-Levels and GCSEs, but instead dealt with BTecs and technical qualifications and had brought her government PC to continue working during her break in France.