Boris Johnson has landed himself in more hot water after being left momentarily speechless when confronted over why he wasn’t wearing a mask when sat next to 95-year-old David Attenborough at COP26.

A photo taken from the first day at COP26 in Glasgow on Monday went viral and caused an uproar, as not only did the prime minister appear to be asleep, a claim which Downing Street has strongly denied, but he was also the only person in the picture not wearing a face mask.

In his first interview since the photo was widely shared on social media, the prime minister was asked by CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour why he wasn’t wearing a mask when in such close proximity to a “national treasure” like Attenborough.

Johnson seemed momentarily confused as to what Amanpour was referring to and had to be told that it was “all over the place”.

After a brief awkward silence, Johnson said: “I’ve been wearing a mask in confined spaces with people that I don’t normally meet and I think it’s up to people to make a judgment on whether they’re at a reasonable distance from someone and whether they’re with someone they don’t normally meet. That’s the approach we take.”

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The clip has already been viewed more than 700,000 times on Twitter, with many people astonished at the prime minister’s reaction to the question.

Elsewhere, in the interview, Amanpour also challenged Johnson on the easing of Covid restrictions in the UK, despite there still being a large number of cases compared to the rest of Europe. In response, the PM encouraged people to get a third dose of the vaccination.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the prime minister said that ”the prime minister has abided by the COVID-19 guidance at COP26 throughout. Attendees and delegates are not required to wear a face mask when they are seated as per the COP26 guidance.”

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