Asked if the PM should have been there, Malthouse said: “No, it’s literally my job to chair Cobra meetings.
“My department has the civil contingencies secretariat, which is responsible for co-ordinating the response across the whole of government. That’s what we’ve done in the two Cobra meetings that we’ve had.”
The minister was then asked: “Where was he this weekend, Mr Malthouse?”
After initially insisting he did not know, the minister admitted he had “read in the media” about the Checkers party.
‘Should the PM have been at the COBRA meeting on Britain’s worst heatwave in a generation?’ – @KamaliMelbourne
‘No… I briefed the PM 8am yesterday morning myself,’ says Kit Malthouse MP.https://t.co/ZTbv6wQALL
📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/G5A07wA2UF
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 18, 2022
Presenter Kamali Melbourne said, while showing footage of the gathering: “There he is. So while the country was preparing for its worst heatwave in a generation, the prime minister was having a party at Chequers.”
In response, Mathouse said: “Well I have to tell you, having chaired Cobra on Saturday and then briefed the prime minister at 8am on Sunday, I did have some of my family round at my constituency at lunchtime as well.”
Kamali Melbourne replied: “Yes, but you’re not prime minister sir, are you? Do you think the prime minister had decided he’s going to be leaving the job pretty soon anyway, so there’s no point in him paying attention and being part of these very important meetings?”
Malthouse said: “No, that’s completely unfair. We communicated on Friday as well and then I briefed him at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning, so he’s right across this.
“I think this is a very unfair characterization of the media around this particular issue. It is my job to chair Cobra, it’s my job to co-ordinate across government and then to be accountable to him, which is exactly what I did when I briefed him.”
The minister added: “The prime minister has to deal with lots of things on a daily basis. that’s why he appoints secretaries of state to deal with those issues and we are well co-ordinated, we’re standing up, we’re facing a difficult 48 hours possibly, and we hope and expect that people understand that it’s going to be very hot, they’ll look out for the vulnerable and adapt their behavior so we can all get through it as safely as possible.”