politics

Top Tory admits she doesn't have Boris Johnson's number but billionaire does


A Tory minister has been left humiliated after admitting even she doesn’t have Boris Johnson’s number – but a billionaire does.

Caroline Dinenage said the Prime Minister did not give his number out “willy-nilly” in an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

And to prove it, she scrolled through her own phone before saying: “No, I don’t have it.”

But she still defended the fact tycoon Sir James Dyson was able to text the PM – leaving ITV host Kate Garraway baffled.

Culture minister Ms Dinenage said: “Of course they don’t hand them out willy-nilly.

“And I’m not even sure I have got the Prime Minister’s number, to be honest with you.



Caroline Dinenage scrolled through her phone to check she didn't have the PM's number
Caroline Dinenage scrolled through her phone to check she didn’t have the PM’s number

“We are talking about someone who is one of the top British business people in the world.”

Kate Garraway hit back: “Sorry! Just a second!

“You’re a cabinet minister and you don’t have Boris Johnon’s number but a commercial operator does have his number and you think that’s reasonable because he’s a commercial operator?”



She was hauled up by host Kate Garraway
She was hauled up by host Kate Garraway

The minister replied “I don’t think it’s reasonable…” before tailing off and saying she wasn’t sure if she had his number or not.

She then flicked through her phone live on air to check that she didn’t have it after all.

This week it emerged Boris Johnson texted billionaire Sir James Dyson vowing to “fix” a tax rule so his staff could help build ventilators for the NHS.



Boris Johnson's texts with James Dyson. Source: BBC
Boris Johnson’s texts with James Dyson. Source: BBC

Mr Johnson has insisted he would make “no apology” for saving lives by any means in a crisis – and was backed by Tony Blair, who said “I find it hard to get worked up about this.”

But asked to respond to Mr Blair today, ex-PM Gordon Brown told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I think Tony would agree it’s got to be done in the proper way.

“You can’t have people in the commercial interest begin able to lobby ministers privately and nobody really knowing what these decisions are going to be and how they’re made.

“This 90-day rule Dyson was complaining about – that you can only be in the country 90 days without paying tax and being taxed somewhere else – is so controversial.

“You’ve got loads of people who are angry and wanting something changed about that, and yet he [James Dyson] has special access.”



Boris Johnson has reportedly refused to change his phone number
Boris Johnson has reportedly refused to change his phone number

He added: “Many of us have real problems we want government to deal with.

“Inadequate social care, waiting for things to happen, not enough support for people out of work.

“And we don’t have a direct line to ministers like Boris Johnson. We can’t text them, we can’t phone them up on their mobile phones.”





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