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Government ministers avoid TV and radio appearances amid No 10 Christmas party controversy

Health Secretary Savid Javid was reportedly scheduled to appear this morning.

BBC Breakfast
Published: Wednesday, 8th December 2021 at 10:29 am

BBC Breakfast and Good Morning Britain have both moved to highlight the absence of government ministers on their shows this morning – after no ministers were made available for interview.

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Since the start of the pandemic, it has been customary for a minister to speak to the media every morning but despite invitations – and a previously booked appearance with Health Secretary Savid Javid – that was not the case today.

The absence comes after a leaked video appeared to show some of the Prime Minister's staff joking about a Downing Street Christmas party held last year, seeming to contradict the government's claims that no such party happened.

A Downing Street spokesperson has maintained that no party took place, saying in a statement: "There was no Christmas party. COVID rules have been followed at all times."

BBC Breakfast presenter Jon Kay told viewers: "Usually at this time here on Breakfast we would be able to put your questions to a government minister as part of a slot we've had on the programme at 7.30am pretty much every morning since the start of the pandemic."

And co-host Sally Nugent added: "We had been hoping to speak to the health secretary Sajid Javid ... but this morning no one has been available to speak to us.

"So this is the shot of the Westminster studio that we would normally show to you this time most mornings of the week. As you can see there's nobody there today, and that's very unusual. The camera's ready, the seat's there, we can take an interview at any moment."

Meanwhile, on Good Morning Britain, Adil Ray said: “If any Conservative MP, anybody connected to the government is watching and you would like to take your duty and answer to those people who lost family members..." before Susanna Reid added: "There is a Westminster seat available for a government minister this morning."

"We'll take anyone," Ray continued. "Anyone from the Conservative Party, any MP who feels that it is their duty to address the nation, address their constituents, address the 140,000 people who lost family members in hospitals, who followed the rules, couldn't attend funerals, couldn't be at hospital bedside while people partied in Downing Street. If you would like to come and address those constituents we would love to hear from you."

And on Sky News, Kay Burley explained: "Normally we'd ask a government minister about this. We were told originally that it was going to be the Health Secretary Sajid Javid because of course it's the first anniversary of the first vaccine being administered. But sadly now we've been told that nobody's accepted our invitation. We've not even had a proper RSVP.”

Meanwhile, Radio 4's Today programme presenter Nick Robinson also said: “We were expecting to speak to the Health Secretary Sajid Javid this morning but we were told just a few minutes after that video emerged that no minister would be available to speak on the programme today.”

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