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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Boris denies Jamie Oliver swipe
By Peter Henley
Political editor, BBC South

Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson says he is "doing no more apologising"
Boris Johnson has attempted to play down criticism he made of Jamie Oliver's school dinners campaign.

The Conservative frontbencher had said the pressure on children to eat healthy food was "too much".

But Mr Johnson now claims he was misquoted, telling reporters that Jamie Oliver is "a national saint".

His latest comments came as he was besieged by journalists after a fringe meeting in Bournemouth, forcing him to take refuge in the party press office.

On Sunday, Tory leader David Cameron heaped praise on Mr Oliver's crusade to make school dinners more nutritious.

But BBC South political editor Peter Henley reported that Mr Johnson had taken a swipe at Mr Oliver's school dinners campaign, and stood up for mothers who helped their children avoid healthier options.

"I say let people eat what they like. Why shouldn't they push pies through the railings?," said Mr Johnson.

The father-of-four, who is an official Conservative spokesman on education, added: "I would ban sweets from school - but this pressure to bring in healthy food is too much."

He later he said he stood by the comments, made at a fringe meeting at the Conservatives' annual conference in Bournemouth.

But said he did not want to personally criticise Mr Oliver who was a "national saint".

Junk food

Guidelines on meals for pupils in England were introduced last month, following Mr Oliver's campaign.

The TV chef started his Feed Me Better campaign because he was appalled by the junk food being served at many schools in England.

The resulting Jamie's School Dinners programme on Channel 4 saw him struggle to persuade children to try dishes other than chips, burgers and some other unhealthy foods.

In his opening speech to the Tory conference on Sunday, Mr Cameron said Mr Oliver had done more to improve school food than the Education Department, going on to say: "Put another way, we need more of Supernanny, less of the nanny state."

Mr Johnson also railed against the "nanny state" at Monday's fringe event, branding safety seats for children in cars "utterly demented".

Booster seats

The Tory higher education spokesman was recently criticised by the RAC for allowing his two sons to share the front seat of the open-topped sports car he was driving.

"When I was growing up we all bounced around like peas in a rattle - did it do us any harm?

"One of the great joys of being a parent is when you throw away the booster.

"Now this law, imposed on us without public consultation, is forcing police to measure our children."

Mr Johnson also called for Scottish politicians to be banned from voting on English matters.

"I have no wish to be disrespectful to the Scots. But it is outrageous that I as an English MP can be outvoted on issues such as Oxfordshire's NHS without corresponding powers the other way.

"The Scots should not get free university education subsidised by us in England. They shouldn't get free nursing care.

"As a Scot Gordon Brown will find it hard to convince people in England he should be prime minister."

Mr Johnson told the meeting he would be "doing no more apologising" following his high profile acts of contrition when he offended Liverpool and Papua New Guinea.




SEE ALSO
Boris slams Jamie's food crusade
03 Oct 06 |  UK Politics

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