Tory MP Chris Philp was “openly laughed at” on Question Time as he tried to explain the government’s advice on Covid restrictions.

When host Fiona Bruce asked one of the laughing audience members why they chuckled, he responded by branding the government “clowns”.

The exchange happened when Bruce asked for clarity on the government’s messaging around Covid restrictions.

Citing Wednesday’s press conference, Bruce said: “The prime minister said people should think carefully before we got to pubs and restaurants but absolutely said don’t cancel parties. Chris Whitty said don’t mix with people you don’t have to for either work or family things that really matter to you.”

There was a pause before Philp said: “Look, the messaging is the same, which is be cautious and exercise judgement. It’s pretty clear.”

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As he answered, the crowd could be heard laughing.

Bruce asked: “Why do you think people are laughing at you saying that - that the messaging is the same?”

“You can try and parse the language but the fundamental point is people can exercise their judgement… be cautious,” he replied.

Giggles could once again be heard from the audience before Bruce interjected.

Bruce looked baffled as she asked: “Well if it’s not about language and what people say, what is it about?”

“Lots of people are laughing, let’s hear from some of them,” she added.

One man in the audience certainly didn’t mince his words when he said: “People are laughing because you’re clowns.”

The audience member highlighted that almost 100 of his own party colleagues rebelled against Plan B, and asked: “What does that say about them? Is that not a mixed message? Going into Parliament without masks, is that not a mixed message?”

He continued: “You had to be told to put masks on. What do we do? We see that, we see you as the Christmas Party. You’re clowns, that’s it.”

The audience clapped, before Philp responded: “If you walked into Parliament yesterday or today…  everybody in there was wearing masks quite rightly. And as far as the people who voted against the measures concerned, we passed with a huge majority, Lisa [Nandy] and I both voted for it, I think the people that voted against it - as they see these figures going up might regret the way they voted but it passed with an overwhelming majority as it should have done.”

People enjoyed the audience member’s succinct takedown of the government, with one calling the “clown” comment a “very good summary”:

Labour MP Lisa Nandy was also on the show and made her feelings about the government’s conduct during the pandemic crystal clear:

One former Tory voter said she feels that the party has no “connection” to Stoke-on-Trent, where last night’s Question Time was filmed.

She said she didn’t vote Labour in the last election, but told Nandy she would vote for her tonight.

The audience member’s comment came just before the Conservatives lost a North Shropshire seat they held for almost 200 years in a by-election.

We think the government could take some notes on how to communicate clearly from the guy who outright called them “clowns”, but this isn’t the first time in recent weeks that an audience member was brutally honest about what they thought about the government… 

The full episode can be watched on the BBC iPlayer.

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