Conservative politician and Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has been heavily criticised for his suggestion that MPs who wear face coverings in the House of Commons are less hardworking.
The Tory made the dig at opposition MPs in the Commons chamber in response to Scottish Nationalist Party MP Pete Wishart, who was concerned at the lack of face coverings worn in the “packed” Chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Wishart said: “Yesterday, at PMQs this place must have been about the most crowded enclosed space in the whole of the UK.”
He added: “The government’s own advice states: ‘wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet’.”
The SNP politician accused the Tory no-mask policy and the House of “sending the worst possible message to the country and contributing to all sorts of confusion”.
In response to Wishart’s genuine concerns, Rees-Mogg accused opposition MPs of not going to Parliament enough to warrant not needing a mask.
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Rees-Mogg said: “Is it not interesting that the honourable gentleman, and perhaps this applies to the nationalists generally, do not normally meet other MPs?
“Perhaps, this is because they’re not very assiduous in their attendance in the House of Commons?”
He continued: “And is it not a pity, Mr Speaker, 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 elbow, elbow to the wheel, they might not need to wear face coverings either because they would meet members of Parliament more regularly.”
Rees-Mogg’s comments have been widely criticised online.
One person on Twitter wrote: “Dr Rees-Mogg thinks that working hard is an alternative to a face covering. I wonder where science is on this one?”
Dr Rees-Mogg thinks that working hard is an alternative to a face covering. I wonder where science is on this one? https://t.co/xQPqymfiXS
— Simon Bye 🎪🔶 (@UB5simon) September 16, 2021
Another couldn’t believe “he really had the nerve to say that”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg just said that Tory MPs don’t need to mask up, because they work harder than opposition MPs. He really had the nerve to say that. pic.twitter.com/n0PSHRbEbS
— David__Osland (@David__Osland) September 16, 2021
Others brought up other questionable things Rees-Mogg has said, including controversial remarks made about the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The same Jacob Rees Mogg that said the people who died in Grenfell did so because they didn’t use their common sense? https://t.co/0ajAtDENLK
— Bob (@bobreeduk) September 16, 2021
Jacob Rees-Mogg says MPs shouldn’t need to wear facemasks in the Commons because they regularly attend parliament (meeting other MPs). He then threw in the gem if the opposition also “worked a bit harder…they might not need to wear face coverings either.” Modern day Aristotle.
— Dr. Jennifer Cassidy (@OxfordDiplomat) September 16, 2021
MPs gathered in the enclosed Commons chamber for PMQs on Wednesday, with many Tories going maskless as the party’s health secretary Sajid Javid said there was no need for them to wear them in cabinet.
The decision has been blasted by doctors who have condemned Sajid Javid for “shocking” irresponsibility.
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