Tory MPs breach social distancing rules to hear prime minister speak at 1922 committee meeting

Boris Johnson with his new intake of Tory MPs after the general election in 2019. (Photo by Leon Nea

Boris Johnson with his new intake of Tory MPs after the general election in 2019. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) - Credit: Getty Images

Tory MPs have reportedly breached social distancing rules in parliament with a meeting of the 1922 committee where Boris Johnson spoke.

The prime minister has faced questions over whether he gave a speech to at least 50 Conservatives in a parliament room marked for a maximum of 29 people to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

He remarked that his colleagues were packed 'cheek by jowl' as he gave a speech to backbench MPs, the Bloomberg news agency reported attendees as saying.

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The Liberal Democrats have demanded answers over the meeting this week, warning that it could 'undermine faith' in the Government during a time of crisis.

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But a No 10 spokesman repeatedly refused to clarify the circumstances when pressed on whether the rules had been broken, or why Johnson had not left the room if it was too full.

'I'm not privy to the detail, it's a political event,' he said.

Asked if Johnson obeys his own social distancing rules, the spokesman replied: 'Yes.'

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the powerful committee of backbenchers, insisted 'social distancing of one metre plus was maintained'.

But leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg was asked to carry out a 'full investigation' by Liberal Democrats who warned gatherings of more than 30 people can breach regulations.

Shadow Commons leader Wera Hobhouse said: 'Reports such as those of the 1922 Committee last night undermine faith in government and ultimately impact the effectiveness of Government public health messaging.

'We cannot allow it to look as though there is one rule for Conservative MPs and another for the rest of the country.'

In a message, Sir Graham said: 'The committee room is a workplace and social distancing of one metre plus was maintained as per Government guidance for other workplaces.

'Obviously it is important that the democratic process is not interrupted.'

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