Related video: Boris Johnson to isolate at Chequers following fury over quarantine escape plan
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are to voluntarily self-isolate despite being told they could avoid quarantine by taking part in a pilot testing scheme after coming into contact with Sajid Javid, amid anger that government ministers were able to dodge the Covid rule.
The prime minister will be isolating at Chequers, Downing Street said, while the chancellor said he recognised “that even the sense that the rules aren’t the same for everyone is wrong” and said he would be quarantining, too.
The row comes after Sajid Javid, the health secretary, was confirmed as having coronavirus on Saturday evening.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, had said the pilot, which is available to around 20 organisations including several government departments, border force and Transport for London, amounted to a “special VIP lane” for ministers.
Guto Harri speaks out after being dropped by GB News for taking the knee
A GB News presenter who took the knee against racism on-air has hit out against a decision to suspend him, saying the newly launched channel is “becoming an absurd parody of what it proclaims to be”.
Guto Harri criticised his employer for claiming “to believe in free speech” and then punishing him for expressing his views.
The former BBC correspondent said that he had not believed in such gestures like taking the knee, but seeing England footballers being racially abused after the team’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final had led him to a change of heart.
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 12:43
Government to spend £20m on research projects to improve treatment for ‘long Covid’
New research studies backed by almost £20m of government money are to look into the phenomenon of “long Covid” which has seen thousands of people struck down by extreme fatigue, breathlessness, headaches and brain fog for 12 months or more after a coronavirus infection.
Office for National Statistics figures released last month found 995,000 people reporting protracted symptoms, with 192,000 saying their ability to carry out normal day-to-day tasks was reduced “a lot”.
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 12:28
Johnson and Sunak ‘busted again for thinking rules don’t apply to them’ – Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the government is in “chaos” at a time when in needed to maintain public confidence.
“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been busted yet again for thinking the rules that we are all following don’t apply to them,” he said.
“The way the prime minister conducts himself creates chaos, makes for bad government and has deadly consequences for the British public.
“Yet again the Conservatives fixed the rules to benefit themselves and only backtracked when they were found out. They robbed the bank, got caught and have now offered to give the money back.”
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 12:13
UK forced to reopen sensitive Ukraine trade pact after errors in text
The UK has been forced to reopen its trade deal with Ukraine, one of its most sensitive post-Brexit agreements, after errors were found in the original text, The Independent can reveal.
The pact was signed by prime minister Boris Johnson in October last year, and lauded as a key example of Britain’s post-Brexit trade and foreign policies.
The agreement not only covers the commercial relationship between Britain and the eastern European country but also defence cooperation to support Kiev’s sovereignty.
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 12:01
Federation of Small Businesses calls on government to speed up change to isolation rules after PM row
Mike Cherry, national chairman of The Federation of Small Businesses, has called on the government to speed up changes to the self-isolation rules in the wake of the row engulfing Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
He said: “We’ve always said that access to workplace testing will be fundamental to keeping the virus under control as the economy gets back on its feet.
“Given that those at the very top of government were today given the choice of rigorous testing in place of self-isolation, small business owners who have been hampered by pings will be wondering why they and their staff are not offered the same choice.
“Government should urgently review the delay to changing self-isolation rules for the fully vaccinated to 16 August.
“It could expand the pilot scheme that ministers currently enjoy to those at the front line of the economy.”
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 11:52
Tory MP and co-chair of eating disorder group accused of publicly fat shaming nurse
A Conservative MP who is co-chairman of parliament’s cross-party group on eating disorders has been accused of fat shaming after he appeared to make fun of a nurse’s weight on Twitter.
Scott Benton, who is member for Blackpool South, suggested health worker David Colldash looked like he had eaten more Greggs pasties than was good for him.
The extraordinary exchange came after Mr Colldash – a Labour councillor in the seaside town – highlighted how the MP had been lobbying for a so-called super casino in the resort after last month accepting thousands of pounds worth of sports tickets and hospitality from three separate gambling organisations.
Read more on the story here:
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 11:43
How Downing Street confirmed Johnson would isolate
No 10 made a swift about-turn on Sunday morning amid a growing backlash against a plan that would have seen Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak avoid self-isolation.
It comes after more than half a million – 530,126 – alerts were sent out by NHS Test and Trace telling people to self-isolate in the week to 7 July, a 46 per cent rise on the previous week.
“The prime minister has been contacted by NHS Test and Trace to say he is a contact of someone with Covid,” a spokesman said.
“He was at Chequers when contacted by Test and Trace and will remain there to isolate. He will not be taking part in the testing pilot.
“He will continue to conduct meetings with ministers remotely. The Chancellor has also been contacted and will also isolate as required and will not be taking part in the pilot.”
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 11:19
Rishi Sunak facing probe over use of poverty statistics
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been reported to the UK’s statistics watchdog over Labour claims he misled the public by saying the number of people in poverty is falling – at a time when internationally recognised measures show it has risen by 1.5 million under Tory rule.
Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said the “cowardly” chancellor was corroding public trust by trying to cover up the truth on “appalling” inequalities which have seen the numbers of children in poverty rise to 4.2 million.
Boris Johnson has been repeatedly rapped over the knuckles by the watchdog over his claims that poverty has fallen under the Tories, with Office for Statistics Regulation chief Ed Humpherson issuing a formal warning to Downing Street only last month that the prime minister’s cherry-picking of statistical measures was getting in the way of public understanding of the problem.
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 11:14
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak say they will self-isolate after exemption sparks outrage
Boris Johnson is to isolate at Chequers after being contacted by NHS Test andTrace and will not take part in the pilot daily testing programme, a Downing Street spokesman said, amid anger that he and Rishi Sunak were able to avoid quarantine.
The chancellor also tweeted: “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.
“To that end I’ll be self-isolating as normal and not taking part in the pilot.”
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 10:56
Small business owners rail against ministers avoiding self-isolation
Small business owners have spoken out against the pilot scheme available to ministers which is allowing them to skip self-isolation.
Sarah Loates, founder of Derby-based Loates HR Consultancy, said: “The sheer chutzpah of this government is breathtaking. As businesses, parents and others struggle on with their self-isolation sacrifice, once again it’s a case of do as I say, not as I do.”
Helen Williams, owner of Middlewich-based Willow Bridal Boutique, said: “If we have to self-isolate, then so should those who apparently represent us.
“As a small, independent close-contact business, I’m paranoid about getting pinged. Having just one of my customers test positive will close my entire business for two weeks with no financial support.”
Tom Batchelor18 July 2021 10:51