COVID-19: Downing Road says Boris Johnson was ‘already at Chequers’ when advised to isolate – as Keir Starmer slams ‘insensitive’ preliminary bid to ‘dodge’ quarantine | Politics Information

Downing Road has stated the prime minister was already at his nation retreat when he was contacted by NHS Check and Hint and advised to isolate – as Labour chief Sir Keir Starmer labelled Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s preliminary choice to “dodge” quarantine as “crass and insensitive”.

In keeping with the prime minister’s official spokesman, he was contacted by NHS Check and Hint whereas at Chequers this weekend after Well being Secretary Sajid Javid examined constructive for COVID-19.

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PM explains U-turn on self-isolation

He confirmed Mr Johnson has been examined and is unfavourable.

After it was revealed that the PM and chancellor had been recognized as shut contacts of Mr Javid, the federal government introduced that the pair would participate in a pilot scheme which sees isolation changed by each day testing.

However there was a swift U-turn following a backlash, with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak now isolating.

Fielding questions concerning the row at an everyday Westminster briefing with journalists, the PM’s spokesman initially stated Mr Johnson travelled to Chequers “at first of the weekend, however I haven’t got the precise time”.

Later within the briefing the spokesman stated: “My understanding is that the prime minister travelled to Chequers on Friday.”

The spokesman then prompt Mr Johnson had left for Chequers on “Friday morning”, earlier than correcting himself a number of minutes later to say that the prime minister had actually met Mr Javid on Friday morning and didn’t depart Downing Road for Chequers till 3pm.

“The prime minister adopted the right course of, he was contacted by NHS Check and Hint and has remoted subsequently,” he stated.

Evaluation by Tom Rayner, digital politics editor

Whereas Keir Stamer was making his reside assertion from Labour headquarters, political journalists had been grilling the prime minister’s official spokesman within the common each day foyer briefing. A few of the “unanswered questions” the Labour chief stated Boris Johnson wanted to deal with had been being put to the spokesman virtually as he was asking them.

On the difficulty of whether or not the prime minister travelled to his nation retreat earlier than the well being secretary began displaying COVID signs, Mr Johnson’s spokesman was initially obscure, saying he had travelled to Chequers “at first of the weekend”.

Finally he confirmed it was 3pm on Friday when the prime minister left Quantity 10, having met with Sajid Javid earlier that morning.

Mr Javid, Downing Road pressured, didn’t check constructive by lateral move till Saturday lunchtime, and the results of a confirmatory PCR check was not obtained till Sunday.

However the preliminary shakiness of Quantity 10’s timeline would possibly properly result in additional questioning of the official account – one thing the prime minister may have to deal with instantly when he takes query at a digital COVID information convention later at present.

The larger problem, nonetheless, is the prime minister’s justification of how he went from not self-isolating, to self-isolating in only a matter of hours on Sunday morning.

In a social media video Boris Johnson stated the pilot had solely been “briefly thought of” however Sir Keir stated that was “utterly inconsistent” with the press notices put out by Quantity 10.

The most recent clarification from Mr Johnson’s spokesman – that the prime minister and chancellor needed to “clarify they’re following the broader guidelines” – is unlikely to fulfill the Labour chief.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman refused to reply a query about whether or not the prime minister’s spouse, Carrie Johnson, was with him at Chequers.

Downing Road additionally confirmed the chancellor is isolating “in his flat above Quantity 10”, however wouldn’t affirm whether or not different officers have been required to self-isolate.

On Sunday morning, a Downing Road assertion on behalf of Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak stated they’d participate in a office contact testing pilot reasonably than self-isolate, earlier than the choice was reversed hours later.

Requested concerning the cause for that U-turn, the PM’s spokesman stated: “I feel the prime minister set out his rationale within the video he put out over the weekend.

“We recognise that isolation, given the excessive prevalence at the moment, is one thing that plenty of persons are experiencing, and the prime minister and the chancellor needed to clarify they’re following the broader guidelines {that a} member of the general public is topic to at the moment.

“The workforce contact testing pilots are essential as a result of it is helpful to get that info that may assist inform future choices about how contact testing can be utilized going ahead.”

Sir Keir stated the furore was one other instance of ministers believing there may be “one rule for them, and one other for everybody else”.

“Let’s be clear: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak solely went into isolation as a result of they had been busted,” he stated.

“With household occasions cancelled, companies having to shut and employees having to go with out pay, Johnson and Sunak’s makes an attempt to dodge isolation had been crass and insensitive.

“At a time when we have to preserve confidence in self-isolation, dad and mom, employees and companies might be questioning what on Earth is occurring in Downing Road.

“That is why I’ve written to the prime minister, as a result of there are nonetheless far too many unanswered questions.”

Sir Keir known as on the federal government to launch an inventory of ministers who had been a part of the trial which sees isolation changed with each day testing.

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The PM’s spokesman revealed there may be “no set requirement” for ministers to make use of the NHS COVID-19 app, however they’re inspired to take action.

He additionally dominated out adjusting the sensitivity of the app, one thing that has been known as for amid a whole lot of hundreds of individuals being advised to isolate.

“We recognise that with excessive circumstances that additionally means a excessive variety of individuals being required to isolate and that does current vital challenges to companies,” the spokesman stated.

“We have to strike the suitable steadiness between defending lives and livelihoods.

“That is why we imagine it’s fully proper that folks requested to take action do isolate as a result of we all know it prevents onward transmission and eases strain on our NHS which is dealing with a big problem.”

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