Vaccines Minister humiliated on Question Time by Boris Johnson over Downing Street Christmas party in lockdown deserves sympathy – The Yorkshire Post says

VACCINES MINISTER Maggie Throup was certainly hung out to dry by the BBC’s Fiona Bruce and the Question Time studio audience in the growing mystery over last year’s Christmas party in Downing Street – and whether lockdown laws were breached or not.

Yet, before others poke fun at the Public Health Minister who was born in Shipley before beginning her career with Calderdale Health Authority, the diminutive Yorkshirewoman was left in an impossible position.

She’d not been present at the drinks soirée on December 18 last year when London was under Tier 3 restrictions that were supposed to prevent such gatherings. Yet it was the 64-year-old who was left facing waspish questions because Downing Street had not got its story straight.

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And now the quietly-spoken Ms Throup finds herself being mocked when she’s the victim of Downing Street’s secrecy, and potential culpability, over a gathering which took place in a week when 2,986 people died from Covid and less than 24 hours before Boris Johnson went on TV to cancel Christmas

Fiona Bruce presents the BBC's Question Time.

It’s the Prime Minister who should be fronting up rather than hiding, in cowardly fashion, behind a junior minister who had intended to go on Question Time to discuss the decision to accelerate Covid booster jabs, the threat posed by the Omicron variant and the ability of the NHS to cope.

Yet the very fact her appearance was totally overshadowed by Downing Street’s frivolities while families were mourning loved ones, or cancelling their own festive plans, now only intensifies the view that Mr Johnson and his cabal follow different rules to everyone else. Disingenuous, hypocritical and now contemptible, this behaviour risks compromising the national effort to suppress Covid unless the PM comes clean with a plausible explanation – if one exists – or an appropriate apology.

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Boris Johnson is still avoiding questions over last year's Christmas party in Downing Street.