The former Prime Minister Tony Blair has denied reports that, after a two-day trip to the US on a private jet, he breached COVID-19 restrictions by failing to self-isolate for a fortnight. A report has claimed that Mr Blair requested special dispensation but was not granted the exemption required to avoid the isolation period.
Pictures published in today’s Sunday Telegraph show the former prime minister pictured leaving a restaurant in London’s May 10 days after returning from Washington in September. The report claims that Mr Blair requested special dispensation from Whitehall officials for from the COVID-19 rules. UNN’s Oliver Down understands that Blair was not issued with the formal exemption letter needed to avoid the 14-day isolation period.
Blair attended a diplomatic event at the White House and his spokesman has said: “He was told to follow the guidance on international conferences, which he did; the US government had cleared the visit because it was for the diplomatic conference at the White House. Mr Blair was tested for COVID before departing the UK, on arrival at the White House, when he returned to the UK and has been tested several times since. All tests have been negative.”
Tony Blair joins a growing list embroiled in controversy around the COVID-19 legislation and self-isolation rules. Back at the start of May the scientific government advisor and the man labelled ‘Professor Lockdown’ Professor Neil Ferguson resigned from his government position after being caught meeting his married lover. As May drew to a close Dominic Cummings came under pressure to quit following a trip up to his families home in Durham to self-isolate with is family. The most recent Covid regulation scandal came after Margret Ferrier travelled to Westminster when experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
These incidents coupled with the latest scandal around Tony Blair has led some to feel that there is ‘One rule for them and another for us’.
A spokesman for the former prime minister said he was invited by the US government because of the role he played in the agreement between Israel and the UAE – describing the ceremony as a “diplomatic conference”.
Mr Blair, 67, flew to Washington DC on Sept 14. He was pictured with other guests on the South Lawn of the White House, holding a face mask in his hand as he posed for pictures with US political figures.
Frank Luntz American political and communications consultant, said: “Tony Blair was a rockstar at this event. People were lining up for photos with him.”
Mr Blair’s spokesman said: “He was not refused exemption by the UK Government. He was told to follow the guidance on international conferences, which he did; the US Government had cleared the visit because it was for the diplomatic conference at the White House.
“Mr Blair was tested for Covid before departing the UK, on arrival at the White House, when he returned to the UK and has been tested several times since. All tests have been negative.”