AN audience member called out Tory minister Andrew Bowie on Question Time, accusing him of taking the public “for idiots and mugs” and refusing to answer a straight question.

The Scottish MP, who was brought into government after his preferred Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak took office, was appearing on the flagship BBC show on Thursday evening when it was broadcast from Newcastle-Under-Lyme.

The show opened with an audience member asking if there was “any way back for Boris Johnson” after his partygate hearing in front of the Privileges Committee on Wednesday.

Asked first by host Fiona Bruce, Bowie twice gave a slippery response.

The National:

He said: “Look, I think everybody was glued to their screens yesterday when the former prime minister appeared in front of the Privileges Committee. It is a proper parliamentary process and as a member of the government it would be improper for me to comment on what is an ongoing procedure.”

Reminded that he wasn’t addressing the question, Bowie said: “Well I don’t think there’s any need for Boris Johnson to come back.”

He added that he was “very pleased that Rishi Sunak is prime minister” and said he was doing a good job delivering for the people.

But Bowie’s answer was given short shrift by one audience member, who called him out for failing to answer the question.

The man said: “I struggle with the fact that the first speaker in this debate [Bowie] didn’t answer the question he was asked. With the greatest respect minister, you were asked a very straightforward question, and trolled out a party line which is nothing new.

“The Boris Johnson hearing yesterday was disappointing in my opinion in the history of this great country and our democracy. More and more I find myself disappointed in the quality of the answers we receive from our politicians.

“I do believe that some of you are intelligent people – only some – but I also believe that more and more you take us for idiots and mugs. I would ask, in the run up to a General Election, that you all really consider the quality of the information you give to the voters, and rather than just trolling out party lines you address the real issues – especially that we face here in North Staffordshire – of families not being able to afford to live, communities torn apart by crime, an NHS in turmoil.

“So forget about how pleased you are that Rishi Sunak’s in office, and start thinking about doing what you’re there to do, please.”

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The comment drew applause from the audience, and Bowie was once again asked to answer if he thought there was a way back for Johnson.

He said it was “precisely because we need to be focusing on the issues that you’ve raised that I’m very pleased that Rishi is in government …” before he was interrupted and again told to answer the question.

“That’s a question that doesn’t need to be asked,” Bowie said, leading to a reprimand from host Bruce who told him it was Question Time and he had been asked a question.

The Scottish Tory again said the government was focused on delivering and not on the “soap opera” of the Privileges Committee.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson called out for 'absurd' excuses at partygate hearing

Asked if Bowie had answered the question, the audience member who had castigated him said: “Not in the slightest.”

The show also hinted at some bad news for Johnson allies, after every single member of the audience indicated that they believed the former prime minister was not telling the truth over partygate.

Bruce said that a majority of the audience had voted for Johnson's Tories in 2019, and asked anyone who believed he was being honest to raise their hands. No one did.