World

Johnson rapped for reaction to ill boy pic

By AAP Newswire

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for his response to being shown a photo of a sick child lying on a hospital floor ahead of this week's UK general election.

During an interview on Monday, a reporter from ITV repeatedly tried to show Johnson a picture on his phone of a four-year-old boy lying on a pile of coats in a hospital, which featured on the front page of the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror.

The newspaper said the boy had suspected pneumonia and had to be treated on the floor because there were no beds available.

Johnson initially avoided looking at the reporter's phone, and instead began describing his investment plans for the National Health Service (NHS) while also saying he had not had a chance to see the photo.

The reporter said Johnson then took his phone and put it in his pocket.

In a clip of the interview posted on social media, the reporter said to Johnson: "You refuse to look at the photo. You've taken my phone and put it in your pocket, Prime Minister."

Johnson then took out the phone, looked at the photo on the screen, and said: "It's a terrible, terrible photo. And I apologise obviously to the families and all those who have terrible experiences in the NHS."

At the end of the interview, Johnson said: "I'm sorry to have taken your phone. There you go."

Opposition parties were quick to share the footage on social media, saying it showed Johnson did not care about patients.

Later, on a visit near the northeastern city of Sunderland, a target for his Conservatives, a worker asked the PM whether it was fear of his rivals that made his party set up a spoof website to distract voters from the opposition Party's policy programme.

"I'm afraid the short answer to that question is that I haven't got the foggiest idea," Johnson responded.

In regions of northern and central England which traditionally back Labour, Johnson hopes to break the party's hold on voters for Thursday's election by appealing to those who backed Brexit.