Ten Tory MPs self-isolating after breakfast meeting with PM

16 November 2020, 09:46 | Updated: 17 November 2020, 14:11

Andy Carter attended a breakfast meeting with the PM on Thursday
Andy Carter attended a breakfast meeting with the PM on Thursday. Picture: Andy Carter MP

By Megan White

Ten Tory MPs are now self-isolating after a breakfast meeting with Boris Johnson saw one attendee MP Lee Anderson test positive for coronavirus.

Andy Carter, MP for Warrington South, confirmed he was self-isolating after attending the meeting on Thursday with a number of other MPs.

Minutes later, MP for Grimsby Lia Nici also said she would be self-isolating after attending the meeting, as did MP for Bassetlaw Brendan Clarke-Smith and Katherine Fletcher, MP for South Ribble.

Further Tory MPs who were either at the meeting or crossed Mr Anderson's path in parliament are also isolating: Jacob Young, Maria Miller, Chris Clarkson, Matt Vickers and Kieran Mullan.

Read more: Boris Johnson self-isolating as he tries to reboot government

The meeting is thought to have lasted about 35 minutes, but attendees did not appear to be wearing face coverings and did not appear to be two metres apart in a photos taken at Downing Street which were posted on social media.

Questions are being raised about why the PM met with the MP in-person, maskless, for breakfast when the meeting likely could have taken place over a video conference.

Breakfast With The PM. This morning I met with the PM at Number 10. I was there with my wish list for Ashfield and Eastwood. Investment is coming, you have my word on that.

Posted by Lee Anderson MP on Thursday, November 12, 2020

The PM's official spokesman insisted at a briefing for Westminster journalists on Monday afternoon that social distancing measures were “observed” and that No 10 was a "Covid-secure workplace".

The spokesperson said the Prime Minister would still chair "key Covid" meetings in the weeks ahead.

Mr Carter posted a picture of himself and Mr Johnson not wearing masks after the meeting and wrote: "Breakfast with the @BorisJohnson this morning, following up on his visit to #Warrington South in the summer. Discussed plans for driving levelling up agenda, jobs, infrastructure and public services."

When asked on Monday if he would also be self-isolating, he said: "Yes, 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."

Ms Nici wrote: "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 Johnson said on Monday that he was "fit as a butcher's dog" after being contacted by Test and Trace on Sunday.

In a video posted to Twitter, he praised the work of contact tracers who he said are "working ever-more efficiently".

"The bad news is that they've pinged me and I've got to self isolate because someone I was in contact with a few days ago has developed Covid," he 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."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also insisted the PM was doing well, telling LBC's Nick Ferrari that Mr Johnson was "firing on all cylinders."

The news will have come as a blow to Mr Johnson, who is hoping to bounce back following the rocky departure of key allies Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain last week.

He plans to reset the Government with a “series of critical announcements” over the next couple of weeks, but it is now unclear how many of those events will be able to go ahead with the PM stuck indoors.

Mr Johnson had been due to meet Conservative MPs from the newly-formed Northern Research Group (NRG) on Monday, who are lobbying the Government to refocus its efforts to "level up" their constituencies, but it now unclear whether it will go ahead.

Self-isolation means he will not take part in PMQs this week either, making it harder for the PM to champion his renewed agenda.

A No10 spokesperson said the PM aims to send a “clear signal of his ongoing ambitions” for the country and will announcement plans to increase "developments on vaccines and the role of new testing technologies".

The announcements will also aim to build a post-pandemic vision for the Government as the UK continues to battle a second wave of Covid-19, with promises to “build back better and greener” from the crisis.

A number of key announcements about “levelling up opportunity” are expected in the coming weeks, including extra funding for education, skills and new jobs.