Brexiteer MP compares UK to East Germany 'under the Stasi' after being spotted on public transport without a face mask
- Credit: PA
A Brexiteer MP has complained the UK is "like East Germany under the Stasi" after being spotted on London's Underground without a face mask.
DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson was pictured travelling on the London Underground without a mask days after the government increased fines for failing to wear a mask on public transport to £200.
Asked about the picture, Wilson, who has previously likened face coverings to "muzzles", confessed he should have had one on and offered no excuse.
"I didn't have a mask on, should have had it on and am offering no excuse," he said, adding "but it is sad that we have now become like East Germany under the Stasi where members of the public think it is acceptable to act as snoops."
"Whoever took the picture didn't approach me or say anything to me which I suppose would have been the proper way to behave."
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DUP party leader and Northern Irish first minister Arlene Foster said everyone was "equally subject to the law" after the photograph emerged.
"Sammy has made a statement in relation to that matter," she said at a press conference.
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"But just for clarity, I want to say this as clearly as I can, everyone is subject to the law, everyone is equally subject to the law and equal under the law.
"So it is important that we remember that, and that is the position of the DUP."
Former DUP colleague Jimmy Spratt said it was time for Wilson to "grow up and wise up and do the right thing and stop the stunts".
Appearing on BBC NI's Good Morning Ulster he said: "I expect more from a public representative, particularly at this time whenever worldwide and indeed throughout the whole of the United Kingdom the advice is to do the right thing and to protect others.
"I was just totally furious, because it's not the first time Sammy has done a stunt.
"But I feel he needs to be much more responsible and to toe the line and do the right thing and try and protect everyone, if he doesn't want to protect himself."
Earlier this week, Tory MP Danny Kruger was forced to apologise after being spotted without a covering on public transport.
In a statement, Kruger said he has "simply forgot" to cover up.
"If the person had reminded me rather than taking a photo and posting it on social media I would of course have put on my mask then and there," he added.
"I do apologise for my mistake."
On Tuesday, the prime minister said in a televised speech that the country's "collective destiny and our collective health" depended on people's individual behaviour.
He said: "If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together.
“We need to suppress the virus now, and as for that minority who may continue to flout the rules, we will enforce those rules with tougher penalties and fines of up to £10,000.
“We will put more police out on the streets and use the army to backfill if necessary."