BORIS Johnson is facing widespread criticism after he responded to concerns over coronavirus restrictions faced by a family during their son’s death with bluster about the “Westminster bubble”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was challenging the Prime Minister over his response to former Health Secretary Matt Hancock breaching Covid guidelines by kissing an aide in his ministerial office.

Hancock resigned at the weekend after a picture and CCTV footage showed him and Gina Coladangelo embracing.

Starmer told the story of 27-year-old Ollie Bibby from Essex, who died of leukaemia in hospital the day before Hancock was filmed kissing a colleague.

Bibby’s mother Penny said she was “livid” at Hancock breaking the rules, saying her family had been treated “like criminals” and were “barely allowed in” to visit him during his seven-week stay at University College London Hospital.

"We just wanted to comfort our son,” she told the BBC. “He felt like he was being punished for being ill. He was not even allowed to see a counsellor. The way he was treated was barbaric and inhumane."

Starmer said: “The Prime Minister was happy to keep a health secretary in place during the pandemic who he not only thought was absolutely hopeless, but he also knew had broken the rules and was in a relationship with somebody he was employing at taxpayers’ expense, it doesn’t sound like case closed to me.”

He added: “I know the Prime Minister is keen to sweep this under the carpet, but let me tell the Prime Minister why this matters, millions of people made huge and very difficult sacrifices to follow the rules that his health secretary had introduced.”

Johnson replied: “We all share the grief and the pain…(of) millions of people up and down the country who have endured the privations that this country has been through in order to get the coronavirus pandemic under control and that is why we had a change of health secretary the day after the story appeared.”

He added: “Instead of focusing on stuff going on within the Westminster bubble we are focusing on rolling out that vaccine.”

Starmer said it was not “appropriate” for Boris Johnson to refer to the “Westminster bubble” in response to the case of Mr Bibby, adding: “Before Prime Minister’s Questions this morning I spoke to Ollie’s mum about the awful circumstances she and her family have been through.

“She told me Prime Minister that every day she watched the press conferences and she hung onto every word that government ministers said so she would know what her family could and couldn’t do, and then they followed the rules. This is not the Westminster bubble.

“She told me that for her and her family this case isn’t closed and she speaks for millions of people. I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw that when he gets up, it’s the wrong response to Ollie’s case.

“I can’t help concluding that the Prime Minister didn’t ask relevant questions on Friday morning either because he didn’t want to know the answers or he knows full well there’s more to come out.”

Starmer said Mr Johnson “muttered nonsense” to this suggestion, with the Prime Minister adding: “We have a new Health Secretary in place and have had one since the day after the stories appeared and that was entirely right and the right response to the situation.”

SNP MP John Nicolson tweeted following the exchange, saying: "Boris Johnson completely wrong footed on #Hancock His bluster and insincerity don’t work when confronted with a real life case - Olly who died of leukaemia and alone because his family followed the rules. 'Westminster bubble' Johnson responds. Ghastly."

Gerry Hassan, National columnist, said while Johnson often shows "no qualities of humanity, kidness or empathy" during PMQs, this is a "new low".

Liverpool Echo political editor Liam Thorp said: "Didn't think the PM could look more out of touch with ordinary people's experiences, but he just did."