Questions we wanted to ask Boris during his Exeter visit

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Exeter today to deliver an important speech about the Government’s plans to boost training and education.

He stopped off at Exeter College where he was photographed laying a brick in a wall and looking busy during a construction class.

He even had time to ‘misspeak’ when incorrectly explaining the ‘Rule of Six’ to a question about the North East local lockdown.

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What might not have been apparent to the watching and reading public was the fact that DevonLive was not one of the news organisations invited to attend.

In fact, the guest list was restricted to a select few, primarily London-based, outlets chosen by Number 10.

EXETER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Exeter College on September 29, 2020 in Exeter, England. In a bid to mitigate rising unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister announced that adults without an A-level or equivalent qualification will receive a free college course. The offer will be available starting April 2021 and applies to courses teaching "skills valued by employers." (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking to an Exeter College student
(Image: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

You can make up your own minds whether closing the doors to local media – not just DevonLive – at a time when trust is in Government is more important than ever is the appropriate way to conduct such an important visit.

There is no shortage of important issues in a city and region where students are in a ‘targeted’ lockdown, children are isolating and businesses are crying out for help.

Here is a selection of questions we would have asked on your behalf if we had been given the chance.

Prime Minister:

  • Given the much lower prevalence of Covid-19 in Devon compared to other parts of the country, can you explain why the same rules need to apply?
  • If the number of cases in Devon remains low will some of the restrictions be lifted soon? And if not, why not?
  • What extra support will you be offering businesses that will be adversely affected by the new rules and restrictions?
  • Given that students have now arrived at University of Exeter, can you assure people that they will be able to return home for Christmas, or whenever they wish? And that they won’t spend months confined to their halls of residences?
  • Explain why it is safe for me and five friends to sit down in a pub with lots of people we don’t know and watch a game of football, but we can’t stand in an outdoor stadium and watch the match?
  • When is he going to review the 10pm curfew for hospitality businesses?
  • Should the Government convert the loans given to businesses into equity?
  • What extra help can the Government give to the South West businesses, as it is the worst hit region economically from the pandemic?
  • Should the Government be doing more to assist commercial landlords who are facing problems collecting rent from tenants?
  • Should the Government set up a special task force to look at the future of UK city centres as they now face becoming wastelands?
  • What help can the Government give to the estimated 3million UK businesses, including many in the SW, that have not been able to access support packages so far?
  • Should the Government be preparing a financial support package for football clubs outside the Premier League which face having no income until fans are allowed to attend matches?

Devon Live