Tony Blair has denied claims by the Conservative Party that he violated COVID-19 restrictions by failing to self-isolate for two weeks after a two-day trip to the United States on a private jet.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the former prime minister was pictured leaving a restaurant in Mayfair in London 10 days after his return from Washington last month.
The newspaper claims Mr. Blair British government officials have appealed for a special exemption from Covid-19 Rules, but the official exemption letter he would have needed to avoid the 14-day isolation period was not released.
A spokesman for the former prime minister told the newspaper that he had received an invitation from the US government because of the role he played in Agreement between Israel and the UAEDescribing the celebration as a “diplomatic conference.”
His spokesman said he was advised to follow the rules for attending international conferences, after he traveled to the United States to attend a ceremony at the White House in which Israel signed agreements to establish formal relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
A spokesman for Blair added that Mr Blair posed no danger to anyone because he had been tested before leaving, upon arrival at the White House, and again several times since his return to the UK.
“We believe he followed all the British and US government guidelines as advised,” his spokesman said. “The government of the United Kingdom has not refused to forgive him.
He was asked to follow the guidelines for international conferences, which he did; the visit was authorized by the US government because it was for a diplomatic conference at the White House.
“Mr. Blair took the COVID test before leaving the UK, upon arrival at the White House, when he returned to the UK and has been tested several times since then. All the tests have been negative.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) provides travel exemptions for diplomats traveling on business related to UK interests and representatives of international organizations and their families and dependents. You do not need to self-isolate.”
But former Conservative Minister David Jones, a member of the MPC Public Administration Select Committee, claimed that it was difficult to see how Mr. Blair could count on the claim that he had been tested “when we had no testing system”.
“It provides a horrific example for travelers if it appears that a former prime minister is breaking the rules in such blatant way,” Jones told the Sunday Telegraph.
Exemption from international conferences from the quarantine rules applies to diplomats and employees of international bodies such as the United Nations and official representatives at international conferences who have been “granted privileges and immunities.”
The Telegraph reported that Mr Blair traveled to Washington, D.C. on September 14 and was photographed with other guests on the South Lawn of the White House, holding a face mask in his hand while standing to take pictures with American political figures including Frank Luntz, the veteran. Polls, and Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader in the House.
“Tony Blair was the rock star at this event. People were lining up with him to take pictures,” Luntz told the Sunday Telegraph.
Mr Blair then returned to the UK on September 16, and The Telegraph claimed that 10 days later on September 26, he was seen leaving Harry’s Bar in Mayfair, London.
Last month, Mr Blair urged the government to conduct mass tests for coronavirus at airports and reduce quarantine times to five days as an alternative to a 14-day blanket quarantine, saying it would have “significant benefits for both individuals and the economy.”
else 16,171 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the UK on Saturday, With another 150 deaths.
The total number of positive cases nationwide now stands at 705,428, according to government figures.