James O’Brien blasts Boris Johnson for ‘defying reality’ with latest press conference

PUBLISHED: 12:51 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:51 17 July 2020

LBC presenter James O'Brien slammed Boris Johnson for his latest coronavirus message; LBC, Twitter

LBC presenter James O'Brien slammed Boris Johnson for his latest coronavirus message; LBC, Twitter

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James O’Brien has accused Boris Johnson of further confusing the public over how to comply with new coronavirus measures which were announced on Friday.

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The prime minister announced a raft of new measures to return Britain “to normality” by Christmas during a live Downing Street briefing.

The prime minister introduced plans to allow employers to determine when workers should return to the office from August 1, and encouraged more people to use public transport outside of peak periods.

The new measures, however, run contrary to scientific advice that there was “absolutely no reason” to elevate restrictions right now.

“Of the various distancing measures, working from home for many companies remains a perfectly good option because it’s easy to do,” the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, told MPs on Thursday.

“I think a number of companies think it’s actually not detrimental to productivity. And in that situation, [there is] absolutely no reason I can see to change it.”

MORE: Iain Duncan Smith accuses scientists of getting coronavirus response ‘completely wrong from start’

Reacting to the prime minister’s announcement, O’Brien, a presenter for national radio station LBC, poked holes through Johnson’s message in a deliberately confusing tirade.

He reflected: “Go to work if it’s safe but don’t go on the tube if it’s peak hour and also don’t stop following the guidance but we’ve changed the guidance a bit but also if you’re employer disagrees with the chief scientific advisor you have to obey your employer.

“I just don’t get it anymore.”

Referring to a question put to the prime minister on Scottish independence, O’Brien commented: “And the Scottish question at the end, he just sort of defied reality in his answer to that.”

Johnson denied his handling of the coronavirus outbreak had embolden Scottish nationalists calls for independence.

“When you look at what’s happened during this crisis, there has been very good, and very close, collaboration across the UK between the public health authorities and scientific and medical officers,” he told reporters.

“The agenda being pursued by all the parts of the UK, beneath the surface, has been very similar.

“It’s thanks to the strength of the Union, I would say, we’ve had the response we’ve been able to muster as one whole United Kingdom - whether that’s our armed services bringing testing kits across the whole of the country, taking people in remote parts of Scotland to testing centres, or the might of the UK Treasury in getting the furlough scheme up and running across the whole of the UK.

“I’m conscious people will want to make divisions. And it’s quite right there are distinct approaches in the way we approach coronavirus. But there is absolutely no doubt the Union has proved its worth during this crisis, time and time again.”

Recent opinion polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of Scots have backed Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of the crisis ahead of that of the UK government - with support for independence also moving above 50 per cent.

Returning to Johnson’s advice, O’Brien asked viewers: “Who are you going to trust? Your employer or your prime minister or your chief advisor or, I don’t know, the boogey?”

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