Former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has said 'sinister' pressure was put on Boris Johnson to wear a mask during the pandemic
Rees-Mogg was an opponent of mask wearing at the height of COVID
Masks ceased to be mandatory in the UK in many public places last year
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The senior Tory and former cabinet minister was a regular critic of mask wearing at the height of the COVID outbreak.
Speaking to GB News on Wednesday, Rees-Mogg said "nudge theory" was employed to persuade Johnson to wear a mask.
He said: "Other countries, continental countries locked down and enforced much more rigorously than we did. And the pressure on the then prime minister was to lock down more fiercely.
"And I don't know if you saw this very sinister thing that some official admitted, that they used nudge theory to try and persuade the prime minister to wear a mask.
"So they showed him all these pictures of other world leaders wearing masks and then one of him not wearing a mask to try and nudge the prime minister into wearing a mask.
"Now I think that’s had surprisingly little reporting, but it’s outrageous that officials thought it was their job to place mind games with the prime minister who had a democratic mandate."
In October 2021, Rees-Mogg triggered backlash after he said Tory MPs did not need to wear masks around each other because of their "convivial, fraternal spirit".
"I would say there's no advice to wear face masks in workplaces, and the advice on crowded spaces is with crowded spaces with people that you don't know," Rees-Mogg told MPs in the House of Commons.
"We on this side know each other."
However, weeks later, he was spotted with a mask in the House of Commons after Tory MPs were ordered to wear them in the chamber.
Face masks have not been mandatory in many public places since early 2022, however growing pressure on the NHS this winter has led health bosses to urge the public to wear one if they are unwell.
Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said in a statement this month: "Adults should also try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering.
"When unwell don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent."
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