Boris Johnson Criticises Media For Focus On Party Rule-Breaking In Tense Interview

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  • Boris Johnson
    Boris Johnson
    Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2019
  • Sam Coates
    British journalist

Boris Johnson has been accused of “blaming the media” for the series of problems the prime minister faces in a tetchy interview in the aftermath of a humiliating by-election defeat.

The PM suggested the press and broadcasters were feeding people “a constant litany of stuff about politics and politicians and stuff that isn’t about them”, and insisted the public is more interested in issues such as the surging Omicron variant.

It came after the shocking loss of the North Shropshire seat to the Lib Dems, which followed weeks of allegations about Tory sleaze and rule-breaking Christmas parties.

In one tense moment, Johnson accused Sam Coates of Sky News of a question “that breaks the golden rule” – which appeared to be not talking about issues that he thinks are important.

Asked which of the recent controversies were to blame for the defeat, Johnson said: “I think that people are frustrated and I understand that.

“Basically what’s been going wrong … is that in the last few weeks some things have been going very well, but what the people have been hearing is just a constant litany of stuff about politics and politicians and stuff that isn’t about them and isn’t about the things that we can do to make life better.”

He went on: “The job of the government is to make people like you, Sam, interested in the booster roll-out and in skills and in housing and in everything else we are doing. Unfortunately, you’re totally right, we haven’t been able to get the focus on those issues.”

Coates in turn suggested the PM was “blaming the public for focussing on the wrong things, and the media for reporting the wrong things”. Johnson responded that this was “very unfair”.

Asked whether he would resign as PM if it became clear that he was an electoral liability and that his removal would be good for the country, he replied: “That is exactly the kind of question that breaks the golden rule.

“What we’re focusing on is getting the job done. What we’re focusing on is trying to make sure that we not only have the fastest vaccine and the fastest booster rollout, as we’ve already done, but we’re able because of the Get Boosted Now campaign to avert some of the more damaging consequences of Omicron.

“That is what the government is engaged in doing. That is what I am focused on. And you know what I think that is what people would want me to be focused on right now.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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