At least 5 Tory MPs self-isolate after Boris Johnson meeting without masks at No.10
Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will start in8CancelPlay now
Get our daily coronavirus email newsletter with all the news you need to know direct to your inbox
Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. OurPrivacy Noticeexplains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy noticeInvalid Email
A string of Tory MPs are self-isolating after they attended a No10 meeting without masks and some stood less than two metres from the PM.
At least four other backbenchers were ordered to stay at home after a fifth MP at last week’s 35-minute meeting, Lee Anderson, tested positive for coronavirus.
The Prime Minister is also having to isolate in the Downing Street flat – just as he was hoping to reboot his premiership.
The PM – who nearly died of Covid in April – today insisted he was “bursting with antibodies” and “fit as a butcher’s dog”.
But the incident has raised questions over Downing Street’s claim to be a ‘Covid-secure’ workplace in the heart of lockdown.
Ashfield MP Mr Anderson attended the breakfast meeting on Thursday with a “small group” of Tory MPs and the Prime Minister.
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson – who's since tested positive – with Prime Minister Boris Johnson last Thursday
Mirror Politics newsletter – the e-mail you need to navigate a crisis-hit UK
Tories finally U-turn over remote Commons work after complaint from MP with cancer
He then fell ill, got a test on Saturday and received the results “within 24 hours”, Matt Hancock said.
Photos from several of the MPs involved show no one involved was wearing a mask.
And at least some of the photos, including one of Mr Anderson, show MPs clearly standing less than two metres from the PM.
In other photos it is not clear whether the MPs and the Prime Minister are less than two metres apart.
There is no suggestion the meeting broke the law, and masks are not compulsory in all offices.
However, official government guidance also says: “Where you cannot stay 2 metres apart you should stay more than 1 metre apart, and take additional steps to stay safe.”
These steps can include wearing a face covering or keeping rooms well-ventilated.
It is not clear if the room was ventilated but the photos show the windows behind the PM were shut.
No10 insists social distancing rules were followed.
It is also unclear whether the MPs might still have been told to self-isolate, even if they'd worn masks and maintained two-metre distancing at all times. Test and Trace rules depend to a certain level on each individual situation.
New Tory MPs Andy Carter, Brendan Clarke-Smith, Katherine Fletcher and Lia Nicci all confirmed they were quarantining at home after attending the meeting with Lee Anderson.
Lia Nici MP attended the meeting and appeared to be a little further apart from the PM
Ms Nici told constituents: “I have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace following a work meeting last week with Lee Anderson MP and the Prime Minister. As a result I will be self-isolating in line with the rules. I currently have no symptoms and will be working from home.”
Mr Carter said: “I had a call from test and trace yesterday following a work meeting at 10 Downing Street last Thursday. In line with the rules I am self isolating.”
Andy Carter appeared to be less than two metres from Boris Johnson
Mr Clarke-Smith added: “In the words of Patrick Swayze… “Ditto”. I am continuing to work as normal, albeit from home, but this demonstrates not only that the NHS Test & Trace system works very well, but also that it applies to everybody.
“Even though both the PM and I had the virus back in March, we will follow the rules to contain the virus and prevent its possible spread to others.”
Brendan Clarke-Smith MP stood a little further apart
Defending the PM, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted “the same rules apply to all of us” and “they’re socially distanced”.
He claimed it wasn’t necessary to wear masks because “there’s Covid-secure guidelines in any workplaces”.
Asked if he wears a mask in No10, he told Sky News: “Not always, no, because the Covid secure guidelines for that building don’t require it at all times.”
Sky presenter Kay Burley said thanks to lapses the PM had been “incapacitated on what could be one of the most important weeks ever for Brexit.”
But Mr Hancock, who will stand in at today’s No10 press conference at 5pm, said the PM will “no doubt driving things forward this week by Zoom.”
He told Sky: “When you are in close contact with somebody, you do need to self-isolate if they test positive.”
“There are Covid-secure guidelines for how you operate at work. And this is true in Downing Street or any other work environment.”
Boris Johnson has had to redraw plans to relaunch his premiership this week as he is holed up in the Downing Street flat until Thursday next week.
The Prime Minister was planning to make critical announcements on electric cars, coronavirus restrictions, and next week’s spending review after a disastrous week of infighting saw off his top two aides, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain.
This week is also crucial for Brexit talks – with the EU suggesting a trade deal must be agreed by mid-November or not at all.
Matt Hancock to give No.10 coronavirus briefing at 5pm as Boris Johnson self-isolates
Piers Morgan asks Matt Hancock why he hasn't resigned as Tory admits 'mistakes'
Downing Street officials today insisted the planned announcements would still take place, either through Mr Johnson remotely or via other ministers.
In a video message from the No10 flat, Mr Johnson said: “It doesn't matter that we were all doing social distancing, it doesn't matter that I'm fit as a butcher's dog, feel great – so many people do in my circumstances.
"And actually, it doesn't matter that I've had the disease and I'm bursting with antibodies.
“We've got to interrupt the spread of the disease and one of the ways we can do that now is by self-isolating for 14 days when contacted by Test and Trace."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned: “People can catch it twice"
(Image: Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
But despite the PM’s “antibodies” claim, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned: “People can catch it twice.”
He added: “We haven't yet got the rigorous evidence we need on how likely people are to catch it twice, although we are working very hard on that.
"The Prime Minister is following exactly the same rules as every other person in the country."