Sunak and Johnson in “Barnard Castle on steroids” escape from self-isolation

You couldn’t make it up. It’s like reading the cover of Private Eye. Health secretary Sajid Javid gets a positive Covid-19 result. If the Prime Minister and Chancellor, who met with him on Friday,  were ordinary mortals, they would have been banished into the self-isolation wilderness for 10 days.

But those at the heart of government live more privileged lives. Driving to Barnard’s Castle to test eyesight. Sneaking a clinch with a mistress, though forgetting to smile for the CCTV. And now Johnson and Sunak, who must not to be confused with the comedy act Laurel and Hardy no matter how tempting that is, are on a trial. They are piloting a stop at work with Covid scheme and testing daily.


As the news broke Ed Davey said:

It is one rule for them and another rule for everyone else.  How about the school teachers, transport workers and health workers getting a chance to be part of this test pilot or is it only for the privileged few?  People have stuck to the rules and done the right thing, Boris Johnson is taking them for granted.

The Prime Minister is making a mockery of the sacrifices millions of people have made. His decision to duck self-isolation is callous and irresponsible.

With Covid cases going through the roof and hospitalisations growing, the Prime Minister’s “Freedom Day” gamble is looking more and more reckless.

Through refusing to self-isolate the Prime Minister is effectively destroying the whole test and trace system.

This is Barnard Castle on steroids. Johnson mustn’t do a Cummings.

Of course, within an hour, we saw the inevitable u-turn with Johnson and Sunak announcing that they would self isolate after all.

Layla Moran was unimpressed:

An earlier version of this article gave the impression that Sajid Javid was part of the trial. This is, of course, not the case and he has been self-isolating since his positive lateral flow test. We wish him well and hope he recovers quickly.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Ed Daveys’ response to this latest mockery of their own rules by this governments leading ministers is spot on, I hope they keep on digging holes to eventually bury themselves and that Johnson’s ” Freedom Day” does not prove to be as disastrous as many of his previous bright ideas have been?

  • Well within the hour and from political and public pressure the PM and the chancellor have U-Turned and will now self-isolate for 10 years.

    Even though this is the right decision, it shows just how dangerous and incompetent this government is, who on earth thought it would be a good idea for Senior Ministers to be exempt compared to the rest of the population when we are about to go through exponential growth at a rate as yet seen during this pandemic.

    This Government needs to be held account sooner rather than later, we can not wait till the next election, we need an enquiry to start now…..I wish we could actually have a Government of GNU during these troubling times as I do not believe Tories or Labour are equipped or can be trusted to deal with this situation alone.

    The health Secretary gave his reasons for “full unlocking” is due to the prospects of NHS waiting lists increasing from 5 million to 13 million. To me that is nonsense and those numbers are going to increase BECAUSE of the unlocking and the high transmission rates in communities and hospitals. Therefore I hope the health secretary has the honour to fall on his sword if he has this wrong and waiting lists increase due to the ending of mask use and social distancing.

  • Clearly I meant 10 days and not years, I think that was a subconscious wishful thinking on my part to hope that we saw no more of Boris for the next 10 years

  • Matt@ What a disappointment, I was hoping your 10 year announcement was correct!!

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Jul '21 - 12:22pm

    “What a disappointment, I was hoping your 10 year announcement was correct!!”

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jul '21 - 1:01pm

    Abysmal from Johnson/Sunak

    Terrible notions, unthinking silliness!

    Masterful at nothing, a govt of clowns, Andy’s satire is marvellous in the piece above!

    Superb from Matt and colleagues too.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jul '21 - 1:05pm

    And Sir Ed needs to be of this ilk more, less of pro pubs, demos, “liberties,” more freedom from harm and explaining Liberalism is not libertarianism!

    And matt is so correct, the less restrictions, more pressure on Healthcare. Realising it is pro healthcare for all, behind the pro lockdown for months, we , those of us who look at New Zealand, are aware that for the supposed loss of foreign holidays and tourism, that land has gained health and freedom!

  • Nonconformistradical 18th Jul '21 - 1:45pm

    Ricard Kemp at has it about right:
    “This episode, though, is just another example of a two-level state in which a Government led by Bullingdon Club members and their ilk, believe that there is a right to rule for them and a right to be a serf for us.”

  • George Thomas 18th Jul '21 - 2:20pm

    Has the PM used the attention on him today to reaffirm the need for caution and responsible behaviour even if legal requirements are being dropped or has he tried to move the story on as quickly as possible?

  • Barry Lofty 18th Jul '21 - 2:20pm

    For this government it seems they will break the rules at will unless challenged, then do an about turn and claim the credit for doing the right thing. If they keep making reappraisals of ill thought out policies we could back in the EU by the next election?

  • nigel hunter 18th Jul '21 - 3:26pm

    When to end lockdown? –After 90% have had BOTH jabs A healthy more secure population will be happier,feel more secure,etc .That equals a population being being happier to go back to work.

  • Barry Lofty 18th Jul '21 - 3:49pm

    I am sorry but it seems Johnson and co will use any loop hole to avoid doing the right thing, as for this new trial it seems at least one of the participants had not realised they were on it e.g. TfL London

  • John Marriott 18th Jul '21 - 5:59pm

    All things considered, will we still be calling 19 July 2021 ‘Freedom Day’ in a few years to come? What an unholy mess. Thank goodness we didn’t get extreme weather to contend with as well – mind you, there’s still time!

  • Jenny Barnes 18th Jul '21 - 6:32pm

    post on the 6/ July:
    “50k cases by 19/7 100k by end July..500k by end Aug. Next lockdown by end October.
    Jenny “Cassandra” Barnes
    Me , I’m staying away from other people, maskless covid spreaders, public transport, etc.”

    We’re already (as of yesterday) nearly at 60k cases. The good news is that the “boris” will probably not survive another lockdown.

  • John Marriott 18th Jul '21 - 6:38pm

    Now that Johnson is isolating in luxury at Chequers, at least we won’t be seeing his daily photo opportunities in various uniforms as he goes around the country trying his hand at various trades for a while.

  • Ruth Bright 18th Jul '21 - 7:24pm

    One teenager in my family has had 38 days in isolation during the more recent weeks of the crisis. 28 of those days in a flat without any outdoor space. Most families have had similar experiences.

  • Here’s a possibility . The people imposing the rules don’t really believe in them.
    Sunak and Johnson are not isolating for any reason other than public pressure. It’s image, PR and face saving, not life saving, that drives them. Ditto for Hancock, Ferguson and the likes of Dominic “kingly rule” Cummings amongst others . Judge them by their behaviour, not their words. Cant has always been the sin of the powerful in Britain.

  • Barry Lofty 18th Jul '21 - 8:44pm

    John Marriott @We are told government ministers have jobs lined for when they leave office, I thought Johnson was getting some job experiences.

  • Helen Dudden 18th Jul '21 - 9:10pm

    How about all the supermarket staff, and those who have the everyday commitment to making our lives easier?
    I agree, when is enough, enough. With mounting figures, yet there are those who seem to feel they are above any type of conforming, and preventing further lock down and even higher depression and lack of employment.
    I think we could argue, is it time for a levelling up in Westminster?
    Actually, my dental surgeon had an air conditioning system in his surgery when I finally had my private dental surgery, after waiting over a year for the NHS. That may be oe answer.
    My concerns are, for those with cancelled surgery and treatment for cancer and other serious conditions.
    There should have been a unified contribution from all parties, stop the messing and lets find a way forward.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jul '21 - 10:14pm


    My own situation, with my wife, her disability issues, especially, us protecting ourselves, no outdoor space and apart from fresh air on the streets, isolated a year and a quarter!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Jul '21 - 10:15pm

    And in a one bedroom flat, thus, had our twentyfifth wedding anniversary!

  • Helen Dudden 19th Jul '21 - 8:28am

    We all need a health service that supports our needs. I had several broken teeth for over a year, causing me discomfort, the only way to solve the problem was to pay privately. It was affecting my general health as I too have a disability.
    The situation we are in, is not morally acceptable.

  • David Goble 19th Jul '21 - 9:20am

    Agree with the general tone of the above comments. I think we all need to realise that the Prime Minister’s “skill” is that he only says what people want to hear. The truth is an unnecessary encumbrance to this person. He was intending to be part of the pilot scheme, I think, until he realised that this might mean that he might become unpopular; a sentiment that is not allowed in Johnson’s La-La land.

  • Barry Lofty 19th Jul '21 - 9:59am

    My wife and I are in the same position as Helen Dudden in regards NHS dentistry and have been obliged to go private for similar reasons, is the NHS under threat from Covid, Brexit and this government?
    Lorenzo you have my sympathy, I should count my blessings having our lovely small garden to enjoy, especially over the last 18 months

  • Not sure this will get through moderation but xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to Mr and Mrs Lorenzo Cherin!!!!!!

    As I commented in response to Mary Reid’s diary during the first lockdown we knew things were bad when the day’s highlight was the nice man from Argos delivering a new clothes’ airer to our flat. And yes the kids and I DID clap for airers.

  • Michael Cole 19th Jul '21 - 10:46am

    I can readily agree and empathise with the comments above.

    It is all summed up by Layla: “This Government is a mess. “

  • @Lorenzo

    Congratulations on reaching your 25th anniversary and I am sure it was not the way you envisaged spending it with your lovely wife though I am sure you managed to find a way to make it special.

    It’s extremely distressing to me to hear about people whose lives are so restricted in such confined spaces, whereas if our Government handled this situation differently from the very start, we could have ALL enjoyed more freedoms in a safer way

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jul '21 - 3:25pm

    Lovely words of thoughtful friends, Barry, Ruth, matt.

    It was during the first lockdown we celebrated thus, didn’t know the isolation of a sort would carry on as long!

    My wife sends thanks, and regards…

  • John Marriott 19th Jul '21 - 3:38pm

    @Barry Lofty
    I’m an NHS patient at my local largely private dental practice. Over a year ago they contacted me via email to inform me that unfortunately my latest checkup, who had been due around that time had had to be postponed; but they would get back to me later with an alternative date. I wonder whether they would have made the decision had I been a private patient.

    Well, my iPad is still awaiting that particular ping. Fortunately, my teeth appear to be OK so I haven’t bothered to get in touch with them. Despite my neglecting them in my teens, my less than uniform teeth usually require little attention thanks partly to luck and sweet rationing after WW2 and, as regards a regular scale and polish, to my switching to an electric toothbrush some time ago. However, I shouldn’t be too complacent, even at my relatively advanced age, particularly as I have during lockdowns acquired an addiction to Tesco’s ‘buttermints’, which are the nearest thing to the old style ‘Nuttall’s Mintoes’ which you can’t seem to get any more.

  • @Lorenzo

    What a talented and passionate wife you have Lorenzo. I was deeply moved by reading that link, I was having a very down couple of days and needed that much needed lift, so thank you and please pass on my thanks to your lovely lady 🙂

  • Barry Lofty 19th Jul '21 - 5:22pm

    John Marriott @ I too have been relatively lucky with my teeth, not so much of a sweet tooth but do love nuts, bought without the shells!! It is my wife who needed the dentist more urgently.
    Lorenzo@ Thanks for the very interesting link, best wishes to your wife and yourself.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jul '21 - 5:23pm


    Your response, bothering to read the link to my wife’s article, had deeply moved her! What you say about her is true and it takes one to know one. You are a fine person Matt, and my wife can sense just how so, and sends you her thanks. She is in a lot of pain, years due to the accident mentioned by her in the article you read. She inspires me!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jul '21 - 5:25pm

    Thank you Barry. Much valued comment by a valued friend here.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th Jul '21 - 10:47pm

    Superb comments from expats and Martin.

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