Work and Pensions Secretary walks out of BBC Leeds interview when asked about Boris Johnson's 'political stunt' with Yorkshire police

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Conservative Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey walked out of an interview after being asked about Boris Johnson posing with police officers in Wakefield.

Ms Coffey was being interviewed on BBC Radio Leeds by political reporter Kevin Larkin, who asked her about the Prime Ministers visit to Wakefield last month.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey. Photo: PA

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey. Photo: PA

Mr Johnson stood in front of 35 police officers during a speech which included details on police recruitment.

But after the topic changed to Brexit Mr Johnson was accused of politicising the police and the police commissioner called it a "political stunt".

Interviewing Ms Coffey yesterday, Mr Larkin said: “The speech as far as West Yorkshire Police was concerned was supposed to be about police recruitment and talking about these 20,000 new officers you want to bring in and then it became a discussion about Brexit. Do you not think normally in a ministerial role you would’ve had the police officers cleared away wouldn’t you?”

But Ms Coffey dodged the question and said: “Well I think you’re talking about a situation that was a few weeks ago, I’m not quite sure why it’s relevant today. We are here about making sure that we get Brexit done. But I think that’s a story from a few weeks ago.”

Boris Johnson reacts as a student police officer appears to feel unwell as she stands behind the Prime Minister as he takes questions from members of the media during a visit with the police in Wakefield, West Yorkshire,  on September 5, 2019. Photo: DANNY LAWSON/AFP/Getty Images

Boris Johnson reacts as a student police officer appears to feel unwell as she stands behind the Prime Minister as he takes questions from members of the media during a visit with the police in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on September 5, 2019. Photo: DANNY LAWSON/AFP/Getty Images

Mr Larkin pushed the question and said: “Yeah I think the concern was that it was being used for political ends?”

At which point Ms Coffey seems to end the interview and says: “Anyway thank you very much…”

Mr Larkin tells Ms Coffey there are still two minutes left tries to ask her about policies but she instead said: “I’ve just said we’re here having a great time in the north of England, they can confidence in this government that is going to respect the referendum result and…

Mr Larkin interrupted: “And can I ask you about your transport policies? Because I’ve still got a minute left so I’d like to ask you about your transport policies if that’s okay? London’s set to get £3,500 this year in transport funding, Yorkshire is only getting £511 a year, could you tell us that you’ll commit to increasing transport funding for us in Yorkshire and levelling it up with London?”

But Ms Coffey had left the interview.

Louise Haigh, Shadow Policing Minister, called for Ms Coffey to apologise on Mr Johnson’s behalf.

She said: “Of course Thérèse Coffey couldn’t find a way to defend Boris Johnson’s behaviour. He deceived the police by knowingly using officers for a nakedly party political stunt, without their prior knowledge.

"It was a serious breach of trust and the Prime Minister refused to apologise for putting serving officers in this intolerable position.

“Will Thérèse Coffey now apologise to West Yorkshire Police on her boss’s behalf?”

At the time a Downing Street spokesman said: “The PM’s long-planned visit was highlighting a national recruitment campaign for 20,000 new officers, which has been welcomed across the police service. It gave the PM the opportunity to see first-hand the outstanding training which new recruits receive, and to meet those who have committed their lives to keeping us safe.”