Jacob Rees-Mogg defends Tory MPs who refuse to wear masks in Parliament
The SNP accused them of having 'no regard' for safety
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended the Conservative MPs who refuse to wear masks in Parliament after being accused of having “no regard” for safety by the SNP.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a press conference setting out his Covid winter plan on Tuesday, with one of its key messages advising people to “wear a mask in crowded settings”.
SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart told MPs: “This is now getting beyond a joke.
“The scenes from a packed PMQs yesterday were simply a disgrace with barely a face mask on a Tory mush (face).
“The House staff are now getting increasingly nervous and anxious about what they are observing.
“It seems like the Tories have absolutely no regard whatsoever about the safety of their colleagues and the staff who are here to support and help us.”
Gesturing to the Government benches, he added: “I don’t normally meet any of you lot and I am quite happy with that situation.
“I have got no desire to meet you on a regular basis.
“Yesterday in PMQs this place must have been about the most-crowded enclosed space in the whole of the UK.
“The Health Secretary excused the Tory no-face masks policy, suggesting you can’t catch Covid from friends.
“Isn’t it the case that this House is sending the worst possible message to the country and contributing to all sorts of confusion?”
In response, Mr Rees-Mogg argued the policy is actually “extremely straightforward”.
He said: “Face coverings are not mandatory for members of the House of Commons, the chamber, voting lobbies, Members’ Lobby and Westminster Hall.
“The advice from Her Majesty’s Government on face coverings is that they are not required by law in the workplace, and the Government removed the legal requirement to wear face coverings in public places in indoor spaces.”
The MP for North East Somerset insisted that perhaps the SNP are not “very assiduous” in their attendance in the House of Commons.
He added: “Is it not a pity that some people don’t like to come to Parliament?
“And if they came a bit more, they worked a bit harder, if they put their elbows to the grindstone, wherever you put your elbows, elbows to the wheel, they might not need to wear face coverings either because they would meet members of Parliament more regularly.”
In July, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told MPs to continue wearing face coverings and “not push the limits for the sake of it”.
While MPs are only encouraged to continue wearing masks following the easing of restrictions on July 19, it is compulsory for staff on the parliamentary estate to have to wear a covering.