Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak in isolation u-turn following backlash

The Prime Minister and Chancellor have been forced into a u-turn after angry reaction to the news that they would not be self-isolating after close contact with a confirmed Covid case.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak pictured together in October 2020 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were originally going to take part in a pilot scheme allowing them to keep working from Downing Street with daily testing, despite having been in meetings with Health Secretary Sajid Javid who has tested positive.

It is part of a programme being trialled across 20 public and private sector organisations including Border Force and Network Rail as well as the Cabinet Office and No 10.

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However following widespread criticism the pair will now both be spending so-called 'Freedom Day' tomorrow in isolation.

Less than three hours after the first announcement was made, Richmond MP Rishi Sunak said on Twitter: “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.”

His announcement came at the same time as a statement from a Downing Street spokesman who said Mr Johnson “ 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.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the Government as being in “chaos” and said that Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak had been “busted yet again for thinking the rules that are all following don’t apply to them.”

“The public have done so much to stick to the rules,” Sir Keir said. “At a time when we need to maintain confidence in self-isolation, parents workers and businesses will be wondering what on earth is going on in Downing Street.

“The way the Prime Minister conducts himself creates chaos, makes for bad Government and has deadly consequences for the British public.”

Earlier in the day, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth had said people across the country would be unhappy with the “special exclusive rule” that was being applied to the Cabinet Ministers.

“There will be workers across the country that have to isolate because they’ve been pinged, including in public services, including the NHS”, he told Sky News.

“For many of them, waking up this morning to hear that there is a special rule, an exclusive rule, for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, they will be saying that this looks like one rule for them and something else for the rest of us.”