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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
Boris in row over Jamie remarks
Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson emerges to a media scrum
Tory MP Boris Johnson is in the middle of a fresh media storm over comments he made about Jamie Oliver's school dinners campaign.

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

He later claimed he had been misquoted, telling reporters Mr Oliver was a "national saint".

The MP was besieged by journalists at the Tory conference in Bournemouth after the BBC published his comments.

The Henley MP initially took refuge in the party's conference press office, emerging after three quarters of an hour to be mobbed by reporters and photographers.

Crusade

As he was pursued from the conference centre by a media scrum, one reporter shouted: "Thanks, Boris you have given us the only story of the conference."

"You're welcome - but what is the story?" replied Mr Johnson.

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 Mr Johnson had taken a swipe at Mr Oliver's school dinners campaign at a Monday evening fringe event, saying "if I was in charge I would get rid of Jamie Oliver and tell people to eat what they like".

'Ban sweets'

The MP stood up for mothers who helped their children avoid healthier options, reported our correspondent.

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

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

He later said he had been misquoted, adding: "What I said was `let them eat liver and bacon'."

'Not normal'

Mr Johnson's shadow cabinet colleague, William Hague, gave his take on the events at another fringe meeting.

Speaking about his own politically-obsessed childhood, Mr Hague, said: "I'm not normal. If you want a foreign minister who is normal - good luck to you.

"If you were to talk to Boris tonight, he's not normal and he doesn't pretend to be remotely normal."

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

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 out-voted 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.

It later emerged that at another fringe meeting, Mr Johnson had been reported as saying: "Supposing Tower Hamlets or Bradford were to become governed by religious zealots.

"Are we ready for complete local autonomy if it means imposing sharia law?"


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Boris Johnson explains himself to the press



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

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