During a heated argument over Westminster scandals, Nick Robinson warned a Tory minister that he won’t take any “lectures” about impartiality from him.
The BBC Radio 4 host probed Environment Secretary George Eustice on a current pornography issue as well as the partygate controversy.
In a car accident interview with Sky News, the Conservative Cabinet member claimed that suffering families should deal with the cost-of-living crisis by purchasing lower “value” goods, advising them to “contain and manage their household budget.”
Robinson brought up the case of Neil Parish, a Tory MP who resigned after confessing to accessing porn in Parliament on BBC Radio 4.
He stated he was searching for tractors on the internet when he came across a website “with a very similar name.” In a “moment of craziness,” the Conservative claims he saw pornography in Parliament for the second time while waiting to vote on the side of the Commons chamber.
“You are a farmer, there is a family farm,” Robinson said Eustice. Have you ever been hunting for a tractor and come across porn?”
“Look, Neil Parish, someone I know and respect, has given an account and he’s resigned his seat for what happened,” Eustice said.
“Clearly, what he did was a huge error of judgment, and I believe he’s given an account of it.”
The Conservative minister called the questioning “flippant,” but the host seemed unfazed.
“Do you not believe that some of the things that are now being said to explain and defend behavior that would compel individuals to quit, if not abjectly apologise, whether it’s porn or parties, there is a danger that you are insulting people’s intelligence?” he asked.
Before trying to steer the conservation towards Labour leader Keir Starmer, Eustice mentioned that Johnson had paid his fine for attending a birthday celebration in his honor in the Cabinet Office. “He’s apologized, and we’ve seen reports today about Keir Starmer attending a party…” he responded.
Robinson clarified that his inquiries are about the Conservatives. “You’re asking a question about politics, Nick,” Eustice retorted, “and in the spirit of balance, you should recognize that the opposition leader is facing.”
“I don’t need any lectures on balancing from you, Mr Eustice,” Robinson answered. “We questioned Sir Keir about it yesterday.”
With the exception of Johnson, all of the main party leaders had consented to be interviewed on the Today show, according to the radio host.
Eustice was asked on Sky News what advice he would give to individuals who want a Sunday dinner with a bird but can’t afford it.
“Generally speaking, what individuals discover is that by choosing value brands over own-brand things, they can actually contain and manage their household budget,” he told Kay Burley.
“It will surely put pressure on household budgets, especially given the current petrol prices.”
Here’s the Tweet by Sky News
“These comments suggest George Eustice and the Conservatives are living in a parallel planet,” LibDem Wendy Chamberlain MP said. Families and retirees who cannot afford their monthly groceries require additional assistance, not patronizing counsel from an inept minister.”
The interview with the Tory minister came after new information regarding potential rule-breaking by Johnson and Starmer during the lockdown.
The Prime Minister indicated on Tuesday night that he had not received a police questionnaire in connection with allegations of a rule-breaking parting party for a former communications director.
More than 100 questionnaires were sent out by the Metropolitan Police earlier this year in response to claims of law-breaking parties in Government premises when pandemic-related restrictions were in effect.
Johnson was given a questionnaire at the time, and has since been penalized for a gathering planned for his birthday in June 2020.
However, he has recently been questioned about claims that some government employees have received additional questionnaires from the Met in connection with the Prime Minister’s former communications director, Lee Cain, throwing a farewell party on November 13, 2020.
“I am not talking on this stuff generally, but the answer to that is no, not so far, or definitely not to my knowledge,” Johnson told Times Radio when asked if he had received a Metropolitan Police inquiry on the incident. All of this will become obvious once the investigation is completed.”
Meanwhile, Starmer acknowledged that police had not contacted him on allegations that he violated lockdown rules, as calls for a full investigation into “beergate” intensify.
Since footage showing him enjoying a beer with colleagues in Durham during campaigning for the Hartlepool by-election in April 2021, the Labour leader has been under fire.
Non-essential shopping and outdoor venues, such as bar gardens, were open during the time of the gathering, but social distancing measures, such as a ban on interior mixing between homes, remained in effect.
In light of the partygate incident, Conservative MP Richard Holden has requested Durham police to rethink their conclusion that no crime was committed at the meeting.
However, the Labour leader revealed to ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Wednesday that the police “haven’t talked to me.”