HealthPolitics

Covid-19: PM and chancellor to self-isolate in U-turn

bbc– The prime minister and chancellor will now self-isolate as normal after contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for coronavirus.

The reversal comes just hours after they said they would take part in a pilot scheme involving daily testing.

Opposition parties said it suggested there was “one rule for them and another for the rest of us”.

Downing Street said Boris Johnson will conduct meetings remotely at Chequers.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “Whilst the test and trace pilot is fairly restrictive, allowing only essential government business, I recognise that even the sense that the rules aren’t the same for everyone is wrong.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the prime minister and chancellor had been “busted yet again for thinking the rules that we are all following don’t apply to them”.

“The public have done so much to stick to the rules. At a time when we need to maintain confidence in self isolation, parents, workers and businesses will be wondering what on earth is going on in Downing Street,” he said.

“The way the prime minister conducts himself creates chaos, makes for bad government and has deadly consequences for the British public.”

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Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth had earlier told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that it was unfair that politicians appeared to have access to “VIP testing” to avoid self-isolation, while Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey asked if it was only available to “the privileged few”.

The managing director of the Iceland supermarket, Richard Walker, also criticised the proposal for Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak to avoid self-isolation.

“Shame the hundreds of Iceland staff who’ve been pinged can

This must be one of the fastest government U-turns ever: 157 minutes after saying the PM and chancellor wouldn’t be isolating, Downing Street decided they would.

The reason is set out by Rishi Sunak on Twitter – ministers can’t be seen to be following different rules to everyone else.

But questions will be asked about why No 10 initially said they would be escaping isolation. Who made the decision? Who signed it off? The prime minister and chancellor must have known about the plan.

There’s also the fact that the PM and chancellor had the choice over whether to isolate – which most people don’t at the moment.

The political symbolism is also highly significant. Three senior government ministers will be in isolation on the day almost all legal restrictions are lifted in England.

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