BORIS Johnson refused to look at a picture of a sick child yesterday, in a startling moment that could yet damage the Tory party at Thursday’s election.

In an interview with ITV during a visit to a factory in Sunderland, the Prime Minister was asked to comment on Jack Williment-Barr, a four-year-old with pneumonia forced to sleep under a coat on a hospital floor in Leeds as he waited hours for a bed.

The reporter, Joe Pike, then took out his phone to show the Tory leader a picture of the sickly pre-schooler. Johnson not only declined to look at the photo, he then took the journalist’s mobile and pocketed it.

He then answered Pike’s question by talking about Brexit.

The journalist persisted: “I’m talking about this boy, prime minister. How do you feel, looking at that photo?”

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Johnson replied: “Of course. And let me tell you … I haven’t had a chance to look at it.”

Pike asked: “Why don’t you look at it now, Prime Minister?”

Johnson replied: “I’ll study it later. If you don’t mind, I’ll give you an interview now.

"What we are doing is we are taking this country forward, and we are investing in the NHS.”

The reporter challenged him: “You’ve refused to look at the photo, you’ve taken my phone and put it in your pocket, prime minister. His mother says the NHS is in crisis. What’s your response to that?”

At this point, Johnson took the phone and looked at the picture.

“It’s a terrible, terrible photo, and I apologise, obviously, to the family and all of those who have terrible experiences in the NHS,” he said.

“But what we are doing is supporting the NHS and on the whole, I think patients in the NHS have a much, much better experience than this poor kid has had.”

Johnson then handed Pike back his phone: “I’m sorry to have taken your phone. There you go.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said it was clear that Johnson “could not care less.”

He added: “Don’t give this disgrace of a man five more years of driving our NHS into the ground. Sick toddlers like Jack deserve so much better.”

The SNP’s Dr Philippa Whitford said Johnson’s reaction showed that the Tories “cannot be trusted with the NHS.”

She added: “Attempting to turn a question about a child in pain to an answer about Brexit shows how little Boris Johnson and his right-wing Tories care about our people, our public services and in particular our NHS.”

Jack’s mum, Sarah, told the Daily Mirror her son was eventually moved to a ward, where he waited for five hours on a trolley before a bed was found at 3am.

The boy was diagnosed with flu and tonsillitis and discharged at lunchtime. She told the paper: “I would like to thank the doctors and the nurses and the health care assistants because they were really good, really helpful. But I’m angry at the lack of funding and the lack of beds because I think that is failing our children.”

Johnson later told workers that he is “looking at” abolishing the BBC licence fee.

After being asked whether he would scrap TV licences altogether, Johnson replied: “Well, I don’t think at this late stage in the campaign I’m going to make an unfunded spending commitment like that, but what I certainly think is that the BBC should cough up and pay for the licences for the over-75s as they promised to do.”

The licence fee is due to stay in place until at least 2027.