Hot mic hilarity! From Gillian Keegan’s ‘sitting on their a***s’ slip-up to Gordon Brown’s infamous ‘bigoted woman’ jibe – the times British politicians (AND royals) have been inadvertently caught out
Gillian Keegan is facing calls to resign today over a hot mic gaffe that saw her launch into a foul-mouthed rant over the concrete crisis.
Following an interview with ITV, the Education Secretary complained that the government was getting no credit for doing a ‘f***ing good job’ while everyone else ‘sat on their a***’.
While it may be the talk of the moment, Ms Gillian’s unfiltered comments are just the latest chapter in a long line of on-air gaffes by British politicians and royals that have kept the public entertained – while providing a useful insight into what those in power are actually thinking.
Below, MailOnline reviews some of the finest examples of hot mic hilarity over the years.
Gillian Keegan on people ‘sitting on their a***s’
In a now infamous clip, the Education Secretary wrapped up an interview with ITV News on the school concrete crisis by accusing everyone else of ‘sitting on their a***s’ during the scandal.
At first, Ms Keegan seemed unruffled and thanked the journalist as they wrapped up the questioning.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s hot mic blunder took place during an interview with ITV on Monday
But the footage kept rolling as the clearly angry minister remarked: ‘Does anyone ever say, you know what you’ve done a f***ing good job because everyone else has sat on their a***s and done nothing? No signs of that, no?’
It is unclear who Ms Keegan was criticising for ‘sitting on their a**’. She took over as Education Secretary from Kit Malthouse in October last year, which was long after concerns had first been raised about Raac – a lightweight form of concrete used between the 1950s and 1990s.
She later apologised, saying: ‘I’m sorry for my off the cuff remark and choice language earlier. I know parents are concerned. I’ve been working non-stop to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.’
More than 100 schools have closed or partially closed due to the dangerous concrete – as another 450 with suspected issues are yet to be inspected by engineers.
Liz Truss on Tony Blair’s ‘weird’ Number 10 decor
After officially becoming UK Prime Minister in early September, Ms Truss gave an interview to ITN from within Downing Street.
At the time markets were plummeting follow Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous ‘mini budget’ – yet Number 10’s newest resident appeared more concerned about other issues.
Liz Truss joked about Tony Blair’s ‘weird’ decor before an interview last year
Speaking before the interview after the camera had already been turned on, she said: ‘I think the décor in here is pretty weird… you know these bookshelves were designed by Tony Blair?’
In the end she didn’t have to put up with the decor for long, after being forced to resign just a month later following just 44 days in power.
Queen criticises ‘rude’ Chinese officials during state visit
The late Queen was famously guarded in her public remarks, but occasionally the mask would slip.
During a garden partly shortly after a state visit by China’s President Xi, the monarch was introduced by the Lord Chamberlain to Commander Lucy D’Orsi, who had been in charge of security for the politically sensitive visit.
‘Oh, bad luck,’ the Queen remarked. The Lord Chamberlain said Commander D’Orsi was someone ‘who was seriously, seriously undermined by the Chinese, but she managed to hold her own’.
At a Buckingham Palace garden party, the Queen complained about the behaviour of Chinese officials during a state visit
Earlier, the monarch had shared dinner with China’s President Xi at Buckingham Palace
She asked whether the Queen knew it was ‘a testing time for me’, and the monarch replied: ‘I did.’
Commander D’Orsi described how, during one head-to-head, the Chinese delegation stormed out of London’s Lancaster House in front of her and British ambassador to China Barbara Woodward, telling her ‘the trip was off’.
The Queen said: ‘They were very rude to the ambassador … extraordinary.’
The sovereign’s uncharacteristically indiscreet remarks were picked up by cameraman Peter Wilkinson. He unwittingly fed the footage to broadcasters including the BBC, which aired it on the News at Ten in a report on an earlier diplomatic mishap by the Prime Minister.
Royal sources revealed that the Queen’s plastic umbrella had a amplified her comments and sent them towards a microphone belonging to her own personal cameraman.
David Cameron on welcoming ‘fantastically corrupt’ countries
David Cameron made a toe-curling gaffe in front of the Queen in 2016 by boasting that he has ‘two of the most corrupt countries in the world’ coming to a key London summit later in the week.
The Prime Minister seemingly did not realise he was being filmed as he singled out Afghanistan and Nigeria for the insult.
Mr Cameron did not realise he was on camera when he described Afghanistan and Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’
The blunder came as he was talking to the Queen and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at an event in Buckingham Palace to mark the monarch’s 90th birthday.
Clutching a glass as he made small talk with the group – which also included Commons Speaker John Bercow and Leader of the House Chris Grayling – Mr Cameron said: ‘We had a very successful cabinet meeting this morning, talking about our anti-corruption summit.
‘We have got the Nigerians – actually we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain.’
He went on: ‘Nigeria and Afghanistan – possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.’
The monarch did not respond to the PM’s comment.
Cameron on the Queen ‘purring’ down the line
The former Prime Minister was no stranger to on-air indiscretions.
In 2014, he was caught telling American billionaire Michael Bloomberg that the Queen had ‘purred down the line’ when he called her the week before to say Scotland had voted by 55 per cent to 45 to remain part of the UK.
In 2014, Mr Cameron was caught telling American billionaire Michael Bloomberg that the Queen had ‘purred down the line’ when he called her the week before to say Scotland had voted by 55 per cent to 45 to remain part of the UK
The revelation was a flagrant breach of the long-established protocol that content of conversations between the Queen and prime ministers is never discussed
Mr Cameron, smiling broadly, can be heard saying: ‘The definition of relief, if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the Queen and saying, ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s OK.’ That was something. That’s relief. She purred down the line.’
The revelation was a flagrant breach of the long-established protocol that content of conversations between the Queen and prime ministers is never discussed.
Following the comments at a UN meeting, Downing Street said officials had already been in touch with Buckingham Palace to offer his apologies.
Mr Cameron also said sorry to Her Majesty when he next has his regular face-to-face audience with her.
Gordon Brown v ‘bigoted woman’ Gillian Duffy
Arguably the most iconic hot mic moment in British politics was Mr Brown’s infamous dismissal of former Labour supporter Gillian Duffy after she complained to him about immigration.
Mr Brown had not realised he still had a live microphone on as he ranted in his car after being confronted by the grandmother, who had spotted him in the street near her home when she went out for some bread.
Gordon Brown shortly after speaking to grandmother Gillian Duffy during a walkabout in Rotherham
Mr Brown had not realised he still had a live microphone on as he described her as a ‘bigoted woman’
Moments after saying it had been ‘very nice’ to meet her and smiling and waving to onlookers, he was heard chuntering to aides that the meeting had been a ‘disaster’ and branding her a ‘bigoted woman’.
Mr Brown apologised by phone after realising his words had been recorded but in farcical scenes, he later visited her terraced house to speak to her in person in a desperate bid to mitigate the damage.
The Prime Minister emerged looking chastened after an agonising 40 minutes and gave a pinched smile as he faced the hordes of media massed on the pensioner’s drive.
‘I am mortified by what has happened. I have given her my sincere apologies. I misunderstood what she said. She has accepted that there was a misunderstanding and she has accepted my apology,’ he said.
Charles on ‘bloody awful’ Nicholas Witchell
Perhaps it was the cold weather that made him snap, or simply that his wedding was only a week away. Either way, the result was extraordinary.
Back in 2005 during a photo session with the press at Klosters ski resort in the Swiss Alps, the King was asked questions about his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles which was due to happen the week after.
In 2005, Prince Charles – as he was then – famously insulted the BBC’s royal correspondent, Nicholas Witchell
Back in 2005 during a photo session with the press at Klosters ski resort in the Swiss Alps, the King, William and Harry were asked questions about his wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles
Surrounded by cameras, journalists and microphones, Nicholas Witchell, who had been the BBC’s royal correspondent since 1998, asked Charles how he was feeling about the upcoming nuptials.
After Charles gave his answer, his face dropped and he pulled a rather sarcastic looking grin.
He then murmured under his breath to Prince William and Harry: ‘Bloody people. I can’t bear that man. He’s so awful. He really is.’
The microphones picked up his comment rather clearly, but whether or not the King realised that his scathing comment would be heard is open to debate.
William kept cool, calm and collected as he continued answering questions about the wedding, jokingly saying: ‘As long as I don’t lose the rings. I have one responsibility and I’m bound to do something wrong.’
John Major slamming Tory ‘bastards’
In 1993, with the Conservatives tearing themselves apart over Europe, John Major sat down for an interview with ITN’s Michael Brunson.
After it was over, the normally mild mannered Prime Minister turned his fire on Eurosceptic cabinet colleagues, calling them ‘bastards’ who he would ‘crucify’.
Sir John Major made his infamous ‘bastards’ comment to broadcast journalist Michael Brunson
He also shared his unguarded views about the wave of sex scandals that had rocked his party, saying: ‘Even as an ex-Whip I can’t stop people sleeping with other people if they ought not.’
He then touched on his own performance as PM, wondering ‘how such a complete wimp like me keeps winning everything’.
Three of the ‘bastards’ – Michael Howard, John Redwood and Peter Lilley – later became leading figures in the Brexit campaign.
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