Jacob Rees-Mogg rails at 'outrageous and sinister' move to get Boris Johnson to wear a face mask

  • Former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has said 'sinister' pressure was put on Boris Johnson to wear a mask during the pandemic

  • Rees-Mogg was an opponent of mask wearing at the height of COVID

  • Masks ceased to be mandatory in the UK in many public places last year

  • Read more about this story below

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 25: Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Jacob Rees-Mogg leaves Downing Street after attending the final cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Liz Truss in London, United Kingdom on October 25, 2022. (Photo by Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Jacob Rees-Mogg was a critic of masks during the pandemic. (Getty Images)

Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed officials used 'sinister' tactics to persuade Boris Johnson to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

The senior Tory and former cabinet minister was a regular critic of mask wearing at the height of the COVID outbreak.

Speaking to GB News on Wednesday, Rees-Mogg said "nudge theory" was employed to persuade Johnson to wear a mask.

He said: "Other countries, continental countries locked down and enforced much more rigorously than we did. And the pressure on the then prime minister was to lock down more fiercely.

WEYMOUTH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: MP for North East Somerset, Jacob Rees-Mogg wears a protective face mask during his visit Weymouth on August 18, 2020 in Weymouth, England. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Jacob Rees-Mogg criticised officials for trying to persuade the PM to wear a mask. (Getty Images)

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"And I don't know if you saw this very sinister thing that some official admitted, that they used nudge theory to try and persuade the prime minister to wear a mask.

"So they showed him all these pictures of other world leaders wearing masks and then one of him not wearing a mask to try and nudge the prime minister into wearing a mask.

"Now I think that’s had surprisingly little reporting, but it’s outrageous that officials thought it was their job to place mind games with the prime minister who had a democratic mandate."

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 14: British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson visits the ACF building at the Technopole, Bush Estate on February 14, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The prime minister visited Scotland for the first day of a trip aimed at showcasing how his
Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed 'nudge theory' was used to persuade Boris Johnson to wear a mask. (Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson wears a face mask during a visit to Leeds General Infirmary in Leeds, northern England on October 2, 2021. (Photo by Christopher Furlong / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHER FURLONG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Jacob Rees-Mogg also claimed Tory MPs did not need to wear masks in the House of Commons as they all know each other. (Getty Images)

In October 2021, Rees-Mogg triggered backlash after he said Tory MPs did not need to wear masks around each other because of their "convivial, fraternal spirit".

"I would say there's no advice to wear face masks in workplaces, and the advice on crowded spaces is with crowded spaces with people that you don't know," Rees-Mogg told MPs in the House of Commons.

"We on this side know each other."

However, weeks later, he was spotted with a mask in the House of Commons after Tory MPs were ordered to wear them in the chamber.

Face masks have not been mandatory in many public places since early 2022, however growing pressure on the NHS this winter has led health bosses to urge the public to wear one if they are unwell.

Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said in a statement this month: "Adults should also try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering.

"When unwell don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent."

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