Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Poll: Do Johnson and Sunak think they are above the law when it comes to Covid rules?

Trevor Phillips grills Robert Jenrick on contact testing pilot

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday, who revealed he had tested positive for Covid on Saturday evening, despite being double-vaccinated. Early Sunday morning the government said Mr Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak would be exempt from self-isolation, even though they had been pinged by the NHS app, because they were taking part in a daily testing scheme.

Many Britons hit out at the politicians for finding a way to bypass the rules that the population have to legally abide by.

On Twitter #barnardcastle began trending as people compared Dominic Cummins decision to break lockdown rules to drive to the north east with Mr Johnson’s decision to ignore the need for isolation. At the time, Mr Johnson defended the actions of Mr Cummins by saying he “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity”, and refused calls to fire him.

On Sunday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Yet again, it is double standard from the government.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are having to self isolate and they are doing the right thing.

“What happens when the rules apply to the Prime Minister? He tries to wriggle out of them.”

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Rishi Sunak had promptly renounced his part in the daily testing programme just two hours after the initial announcement, tweeting: “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.”

Later that day at 3.19pm Boris Johnson released a video from his countryside retreat, explaining that he was changing the plan and indeed going to isolate.

He said: “We did look briefly at the idea of us taking part in the pilot scheme which allows people to test daily.

“But I think it’s far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules and that’s why I’m going to be self-isolating until the 26th of July.

“I know how frustrating it all is, but I really do urge everybody to stick with the programme.”

Jess Phillips, Labour MP, responded to his video by saying: “I guess at Eton they teach a different word for sorry.”

Mr Starmer said: “The only reason he has u-turned on this is because he has been busted.”

But outrage at the PM’s initial decision not to isolate was not universal.

Conservative MP for Ashford, Kent Damian Green supported the Prime Minister’s initial decision to opt-out of isolation. He said: “Allowing the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to work as normally as possible is actually quite sensible.”

Express.co.uk wants to know whether you think the Prime Minister can do his job properly working from home, and if he and Mr Sunak should have continued to work at Downing Street. Vote in the poll and tell us your opinion in the comments section.

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This controversy comes just three weeks after the scandal caused by Matt Hancock as he was exposed in a video showing him kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo, breaking social distancing rules and cheating on his wife.

Initially, Downing Street said Mr Johnson had accepted an apology from Mr Hancock and considered the case “closed”. After mounting public and party pressure, Mr Hancock resigned the next day and Sajid Javid stepped in to replace him.

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