Minister terminates interview after suggesting public's age and weight to blame for UK's high death toll

Thérèse Coffey ended her interview on Good Morning Britain by turning off her webcam

Thérèse Coffey ended her interview on Good Morning Britain by turning off her webcam - Credit: ITV

A government minister has shut down an interview after suggesting the British public's weight and age was to blame for the coronavirus death toll in the UK.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Thérèse Coffey denied suggestions from presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid that the government was not prepared for the pandemic.

"There'll be a variety of reasons for why people have unfortunately died due to this, some of that will be recognising the age of the population. Some of it will be recognising the obesity of our population.

""But we've been learning throughout of how we can improve the different ways of helping people through this."

It prompted Morgan to "applaud" the minister "for giving us some reasons".

Reid added: "That's the first time we've heard a government minister settle on a couple of explanations". 

"So you've given us two now, ageing population and obesity," commented Morgan. "So are you now saying that the reason for us having the worst death rate in the world is the public? They're too old and they're too fat?"

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But Coffey claimed that it was a "very insulting thing" to put it in those terms.

"I'm conscious there is a variety of factors that will have led to people sadly being ill during this time and sadly that translating into deaths. I'm conscious that this is a very serious impact, our own prime minister was in hospital in intensive care himself last April, I'm conscious that we are wanting to make sure we have a wrap-around support for people".

Morgan, however, was in disbelief that she found his question "insulting".

"I also need to point out you started this interview late, unfortunately, I have to go to other broadcasters as well, and I wish we'd had more time when I was due to start at 8.15".

"I haven't interviewed you since May, so you can come back at any time," the minister was told. "So it was you that boycotted the programme, so please don't play 'you haven't given me enough time' card, because we gave you eight months and you didn't turn up".

But as Morgan talked, Coffey reached to turn the webcam off. 

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