Tony Blair has denied Tory claims that he breached COVID-19 restrictions by failing to self-isolate for a fortnight after a two-day trip to the US on a non-public jet.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the previous prime minister was pictured leaving a restaurant in London’s Mayfair 10 days after coming back from Washington final month.
The paper claims Mr Blair appealed to Whitehall officers for particular dispensation from the COVID-19 rules, however was not issued with the formal exemption letter he would have wanted to keep away from the 14-day isolation interval.
A spokesman for the previous prime minister instructed the paper he was invited by the US authorities due to the position he performed within the settlement between Israel and the UAE, describing the ceremony as a “diplomatic conference”.
He was suggested to observe rules on attending worldwide conferences, having travelled to the US for a ceremony on the White House at which Israel signed agreements establishing formal relations with Bahrain and the UAE, his spokesman mentioned.
Mr Blair posed no danger to anybody as he was examined earlier than his departure, on arrival on the White House, and once more a number of occasions since returning to the UK, his spokesman added.
“We believe he followed all UK and US government guidelines as advised,” his spokesman mentioned. “He was not refused exemption by the UK authorities.
“He was instructed to observe the steering on worldwide conferences, which he did; the US authorities had cleared the go to as a result of it was for the diplomatic convention on the White House.
“Mr Blair was examined for COVID earlier than departing the UK, on arrival on the White House, when he returned to the UK and has been examined a number of occasions since. All checks have been unfavorable.”
And a Foreign Office spokesman mentioned: “The FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) supplies journey exemptions to diplomats travelling on enterprise relating to the pursuits of the UK, representatives of worldwide organisations, and their households and dependants. Those issued an exemption is not going to want to self-isolate.”
But former Tory minister David Jones, a member of the general public administration committee choose committee of MPs, claimed it was laborious to see how Mr Blair might depend on claiming he had been examined “after we have not received a testing regime”.
Mr Jones instructed The Sunday Telegraph: “It units an appalling instance to travellers if a former prime minister seems to flout the rules in such a flagrant method.”
The worldwide conferences exemption to the quarantine rules applies to diplomats, employees at worldwide our bodies such because the UN and formal representatives at worldwide conferences who’ve been “granted privileges and immunities”.
The Telegraph studies that Mr Blair flew to Washington DC on 14 September and was pictured with different company on the South Lawn of the White House, holding a face masks in his hand as he posed for photos with US political figures together with Frank Luntz, the veteran pollster, and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican chief within the House of Representatives.
Mr Luntz instructed The Sunday Telegraph: “Tony Blair was a rock star at this occasion. People had been lining up for photographs with him.”
Mr Blair then returned to the UK on 16 September and the Telegraph claims that 10 days in a while 26 September he was seen leaving Harry’s Bar in London’s Mayfair.
Last month, Mr Blair urged the federal government to herald mass coronavirus testing at airports and lower quarantine occasions to 5 days instead to the blanket 14-day quarantine, saying it will have “important advantages each to people and the financial system”.