Jacob Rees-Mogg told Andrew Marr that people need to “get a sense of perspective” over Partygate, after the broadcaster opened up about burying his father while Downing Street parties.
In a jaw-dropping clash, the top Tory stood by his controversial claim that Partygate was “fluff” – even after Marr showed his “intense anger”.
The former BBC broadcasting veteran, who now helms a nightly LBC show, said: “I buried my father on the week that one of those parties took place and it was a party.
“He was an elder of the Church of Scotland – that church was locked and barred.
“We had a small gathering, most of the family weren’t there. The other parishioners he would have loved to be there weren’t allowed to be there because we followed the rules.
“And I felt intensely angry about that – and I do not regard this as fluff.”
Rees-Mogg initially avoided answering the question, suggesting that closing churches was a “great mistake”.
But, when pressed, he did not disavow his use of the word fluff – even now that Johnson has been fined by the police.
‘Sense of perspective’
The Brexit opportunities minister said: “What is happening now two years on against what’s going on in Ukraine, what is going on with the cost of living crisis, one has to get a sense of perspective.
“What is going on in Ukraine is fundamental to the security of the Western world. And you are comparing this to a fine issued for something that happened two years ago.”
He added: “I think we need to look at what is fundamental to the security of our nation and the security of the Western world.”
Marr responded that what happened to him also “happened to so many others up and down the country”, adding: “We find, I would say, that word ‘fluff’ quite offensive.”
But Rees-Mogg was undeterred, saying: “I still think that in comparison with the war in Ukraine… a fine for something that happened two years ago is not the most pressing political matter.”
He added: “The Daily Mail headline said ‘don’t forget there’s a war on’ and this is something we have to remember – we need a sense of perspective”.
Watch the full exchange here.