Tony Blair ‘consulted Matt Hancock about coronavirus guidelines’ before trip to America that saw him accused of breaking quarantine rules on his return
- Tony Blair spoke with Matt Hancock before visit to White House in September
- Mr Blair was accused of breaching quarantine rules following his trip to the US
- Former Prime Minister was pictured at Harry’s Bar in London’s Mayfair last month
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair ‘sought the advice of Matt Hancock’ before allegedly breaching the two-week quarantine rules following a trip to the White House, it has been reported.
Mr Blair, 67, who was pictured at Harry’s Bar in London’s Mayfair less than two weeks after returning from a two-day trip to the U.S, spoke with the Health Secretary about the Covid-19 guidelines prior to his visit, according to The Daily Telegraph.
A spokesman for Mr Blair said he was invited to an ‘international conference’ because of his ties to the Middle East peace agreement between Israel and the UAE.
However it has since been claimed that the former leader, who consulted Mr Hancock before his trip on September 14, sought exemption from the rules by obtaining an official letter.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock prior to his trip to the US last month
Mr Blair was pictured at Harry’s Bar in London’s Mayfair less than two weeks after returning from his two-day trip
Sources told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Hancock advised the former Prime Minister to apply to the Foreign Office in order to seek exemption from the rules.
However it still unclear why Mr Blair contacted the Health Secretary.
Under current guidelines, anyone arriving in the UK from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days unless they have travelled from an exempt destination.
The ‘international conferences’ exemption to the rules applies to diplomats, staff at international bodies such as the UN and formal representatives at international conferences who have been ‘granted privileges and immunities’.
But Mr Blair is considered a private citizen since he left his role as Middle East envoy in 2015.
Those failing to follow the rules on self-isolation could be liable for a £1,000 fine, or potential prosecution.
During his trip, Mr Blair was pictured mingling with guests on the South Lawn of the White House on September 14.
However just ten days after his return, the former Prime Minister, who reportedly travelled by private jet on the £7,000-an-hour Falcon 7X, was pictured leaving the private members’ clubs in London on September 26.
Sources told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Hancock advised the former Prime Minister to apply to the Foreign Office
Mr Blair was pictured speaking with guests on the South Lawn of the White House on September 14
A spokesperson for Mr Blair told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘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.’
Earlier this year, Mr Blair warned the UK was ‘running out of time’ to roll out a mass coronavirus testing programme as he said a second wave of the disease would force ministers to choose between the economy and people’s lives.
Mr Blair said the system needed to be put in place as soon as possible amid fears of a second spike in infections in the autumn and winter months.
The former Labour leader said he believed it is ‘very hard to see how you go back into lockdown’ if there is a resurgence in case numbers.