The former Labour Prime Minister was pictured in Mayfair, London just 10 days after returning from Washington. Current coronavirus guidelines hold that anyone arriving from the US must quarantine for 14 days before re-entering the UK. Mr Blair denies the claims, and his spokesman said he tested negative several times and was given an exemption to the rules by Whitehall.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Blair was spotted leaving a Mayfair restaurant after four days before his quarantine period had lapsed.
The paper claimed he had appealed for special exemption from the coronavirus measure, but was not issued with the formal exemption letter.
The former Prime Minister flew to Washington on September 14 to meet with US officials for the historic peace treaty signing between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE.
He was photographed not wearing face mask on the South Lawn of the White House with Kevin McCarthy, Republican leader of the House of Representatives.
Tony Blair news: The former Prime Minister has been accused of a ‘flagrant’ breach of coronavirus rules
Tony Blair news: The former PM was spotted in London 10 days after flying home from Washington
Frank Luntz, veteran pollster and also pictured with Mr Blair, said: “Tony Blair was a rockstar at this event. People were lining up for photos with him.”
Mr Blair’s spokesman defended the breach on grounds he was following the UK’s rules on attending “international conferences”.
But the exemption only applies to diplomats and formal representatives at an international level.
Mr Blair has been a private citizen from 2015, when he stepped down as Middle East envoy.
Tony Blair news: Current guidelines hold Brits should isolate for 14 days when returning from the US
Tony Blair news: David Jones pointed out the UK has no airport testing regime, which Mr Blair claimed he underwent
The former Prime Minister’s spokesman then denied claims Mr Blair was denied an exemption letter, and claimed he posed no risk of transmitting the virus.
His spokesman added: “We believe he followed all UK and US government guidelines as advised. 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.”
But David Jones, Tory member of Parliament’s public administration committee, rubbished Mr Blair’s claims.
He said it was “hard to see” how Mr Blair could rely on claims he had tested negative ahead of his flights “when we haven’t got a testing regime”.
He added: “It sets an appalling example to travellers if a former prime minister appears to flout the rules in such a flagrant manner.”
Corbyn’s legacy GONE: Corbynite on Labour front-bench resigns [INSIGHT]
EU insider mocked Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘request for coup d’etat’ [COMMENT]
Labour civil war: Momentum’s call for founder to LEAVE group [INFO]
Tony Blair news: The UK has reported 15,650 new cases of coronavirus
Tony Blair news: Boris Johnson has laid out a three tier system to tackle rising coronavirus cases
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also been found in breach of the UK’s coronavirus guidelines on two occasions.
The first came when Mr Corbyn was pictured at a dinner party last month with more than six guests, breaching Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “rule of six”.
He was also spotted yesterday at a “memorial carnival” for Occupy Wall Street founder David Graeber.
There were reportedly over 100 people at the event, with current guidelines holding there should be no more than 30 in attendance at memorials and funerals.