Alok Sharma should quarantine in a hotel like everyone else

Alok Sharma should quarantine in a hotel like everyone else

August 6, 2021

You’re not better than us: Angry travellers and MPs demand jet-setting Climate Tsar Alok Sharma quarantine in a hotel like everyone else returning from red list countries

  • Alok Sharma must quarantine in a hotel like everyone else, angry travellers said
  • It was revealed he was exempted from self-isolation after visiting ‘red-list’ places
  • He will be allowed to return his £1.7million house when he returns from Brazil trip
  • Hundreds are fleeing Mexico to avoid a £2,285 for a ten-day quarantine in a hotel

Jet-setting Alok Sharma must quarantine in a hotel like everyone else, angry travellers and MPs insisted last night.

The Climate Tsar was accused of hypocrisy when the Daily Mail revealed he had been exempted from self-isolation after visiting ‘red-list’ countries.

Highlighting what critics said was ‘one rule for them and another for us’, he will be allowed to return to his £1.7million home when he gets back from an official trip to Brazil.

At the same time, hundreds of British families are scrambling to flee Mexico to avoid a £2,285 bill for ten days of quarantine in a hotel room after the country was moved on to the red list.

Jet-setting Alok Sharma (pictured left on Brazil trip) must quarantine in a hotel like everyone else on his return from Brazil, angry travellers and MPs insisted last night

A senior Tory MP said Mr Sharma should self-isolate on his return from Brazil.

‘If you’re going to red-list countries then I think, irrespective of whether you are a minister or not, you have the potential to carry a deadly virus and pass it on,’ the MP said.

£1.7m home with pool Sharma can come and go from… 

Quarantine is unlikely to be a hardship for Alok Sharma in his luxury home in Caversham, near Reading.

He and his family live on a beautiful tree-lined avenue of large detached houses, each with its own sizeable plot of land.

The minister bought the home – which is kept completely private by trees and hedges – for £850,000 in 2003.

It is now estimated to be worth around £1.7million.

Quarantine is unlikely to be a hardship for Alok Sharma in his luxury home (pictured) in Caversham, near Reading

The driveway has ample room for several cars, which can also be kept in the triple garage. 

And the house itself boasts plenty of space for Mr Sharma, 53, his wife Ingela and their two daughters.

But the biggest draw is sure to be the garden, which has a swimming pool. 

Should this prove too restrictive, it’s a short stroll from the Berkshire countryside.

‘The law may allow it because there are exemptions, but I think when it comes to red-list countries they need to be very, very careful as to whether the meeting really was necessary and whether it could have been done virtually.

‘It’s not going down well with the public with two rules – one for them and one for us. 

‘Given that we’ve already had high-profile examples – Cummings, Jenrick, Hancock – it would have been prudent to quarantine.’

In other developments yesterday:

  • Boris Johnson did not self-isolate after a member of his team tested positive for Covid;
  • Other ministers jetted overseas at public expense and enjoyed activities like olive oil tasting and museum visits when most travel was restricted;
  • MPs will be able to claim back the cost of coronavirus tests for junkets abroad;
  • Covid infection levels have dropped by their biggest margin since lockdown measures were eased;
  • The UK recorded another 92 virus deaths and a further 31,808 cases yesterday.

Mr Sharma has travelled tens of thousands of miles over the past seven months to prepare the ground for the COP26 global environment summit in Glasgow this autumn.

He sparked accusations of hypocrisy for flying to at least 30 countries while urging them to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

And despite visiting at least six countries on the UK’s travel ‘red list’, he has been given a ministerial exemption from hotel quarantine each time. 

He has also been able to avoid having to isolate at home following ‘amber list’ trips. Days after returning from red-list Bangladesh, 

Mr Sharma met Prince Charles indoors without a mask – then visited a primary school.

Ordinary travellers face fines of up to £10,000 for breaking travel quarantine rules. 

Gillian Scott, 36, is isolating in a hotel with her student daughter Jenna, 19, after returning to the UK from Dubai where she was visiting her terminally-ill father Hughie Cochrane.

… and cramped quarantine hotel others are stuck in 

Andy Roberts (pictured) is in quarantine at the Sandman Signature Hotel at Gatwick

Andy Roberts has been in quarantine at the Sandman Signature Hotel at Gatwick with his wife and two daughters since arriving back from Brazil last Sunday.

Mr Roberts, 36, Roseane Alves and their daughters Sofia, eight, and Julia, seven, were forced to sleep in just one room on the first night.

They have since moved into adjoining rooms. The 11-night stay is costing £3,050. 

Mr Roberts said he found it ‘very grating’ when he discovered Alok Sharma had been able to travel around the world – including Brazil – apparently avoiding quarantine rules. 

Mr Roberts, 36, Roseane Alves and their daughters Sofia, eight, and Julia, seven, were forced to sleep in just one room at the Sandman Signature Hotel (pictured)

‘These hotels are absolutely packed with families like us who are having to sacrifice an awful lot,’ he said.

The family have returned to the UK after living in Brazil, for 13 years where Mr Roberts, originally from York, has worked as a missionary.

Mrs Scott, who cares for vulnerable children, asked to avoid quarantine on compassionate grounds but was refused.

‘When I asked to be spared quarantine because of my situation there was no compassion,’ she said. 

‘I’m really not sure if my requests were even read. I then woke up to discover Alok Sharma keeps being able to avoid quarantine.

‘I’m already suffering anxiety because of my father, but this was the icing on the cake. It’s utterly infuriating.

‘We’re stuck in what feels like a prison while he gets to float in and out of the UK as if life is normal. I’m so upset, I’ve been crying.’

A mother of two, who had to quarantine in a hotel at Heathrow after returning from South Africa with her family, accused Mr Sharma of ‘complete hypocrisy’.

The 34-year-old said: ‘Our quarantining experience was so awful and disgusting. 

‘We had to endure a dirty room and food that made us ill. 

‘So, to hear that this minister can skip quarantine is so unfair.

‘I can’t tell you how upset that makes me feel. I think it’s completely hypocritical.’ 

Paul Charles chief executive of the PC Agency, a travel consultancy, said: ‘It’s again an example where ministers seem to be living in a different world to the rest of us.

‘If I’m a small business and I travel abroad on essential business, which I would regard as protecting jobs or creating jobs, then does this now mean that I can avoid quarantine as well?’

Labour frontbencher David Lammy said the number of international journeys Mr Alok undertook was ‘bizarre’ considering his environment role.

But the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘As COP26 president, Alok Sharma is leading climate negotiations with countries including major emitters to cut emissions and secure ambitious action ahead of the summit. 

The majority of this work is done remotely but some travel to key countries for face-to-face talks is essential.

‘He has secured ambitious action as a result of the discussions he has had. 

‘For example, immediately following his visit to Japan and South Korea the governments there committed to ambitious net zero targets which was a key ask from the UK.’ 

Asked if Mr Sharma would quarantine on his return from Brazil, the spokesman replied: ‘He will continue to comply with the rules as set out.’

The Cabinet minister lives in Reading with wife Ingela and their two daughters. 

One rule for them yet again: JOHN HUMPHRYS criticises Alok Sharma for spending seven months jetting around the world ignoring Covid regulations knowing they don’t apply to him

By John Humphrys for the Daily Mail 

Hypocrisy is said to be the tribute that vice pays to virtue. A simpler way of putting it is that hypocrites like to say one thing but do another. We’ve had some stunning examples of that this week from our political masters.

If there’s one thing the Government has been consistent about during the pandemic, it’s that we must all make sacrifices in the great battle against Covid. All of us.

From the lonely granny isolated in her care home to the parents desperate to give the kids a holiday somewhere warm. The rules are rules. 

And if they say you can’t see granny or can’t risk booking that holiday because you might end up in quarantine, so be it. We’re all in the same boat.

Except that we’re not. The rules are different if you are, say, a ‘Crown servant’. And who introduced those rules? Why, the Government, of course. 

Which is why Alok Sharma has been able to leap on and off planes over the past seven months with his retinue of happy helpers never fearing for a moment that he might have to spend so much as a morning in isolation, let alone quarantine, when he gets home. Even though many of the countries he visited were on the notorious red list.

Alok Sharma (pictured) has been able to leap on and off planes over the past seven months never fearing for a moment that he might have to alone quarantine, when he gets home

Now let’s acknowledge that Mr Sharma has a very important job. He’s the minister charged with running the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November. 

Its aim, put simply, is for every country to agree on new measures that might delay or even halt the terrible threat posed by climate change.

Just how terrible was underlined again this week when climate scientists reported that the currents in the Gulf Stream are at their slowest point for 1,600 years. The warmer the water, the greater the chance it will stop. The consequences would be catastrophic around the world.

What every scientist agrees on is that we can do it only if we cut drastically the amount of carbon we spew into the atmosphere. 

By ‘we’ I mean all of us. How strange, then, that Mr Sharma felt it necessary to criss-cross the globe flying to at least 30 countries to spread that message.

Let’s accept that the rare face to face meeting between our prime minister and the presidents of the United States or China might produce some benefits. 

But a meeting between a minister who is not exactly a household name even in his own country, with a similarly obscure foreign counterpart?

Or perhaps Mr Sharma has such confidence in his own personal chemistry that by meeting Jair Bolsonaro, the unspeakable president of Brazil (one of Sharma’s many destinations), he’ll extract a promise from him to stop destroying the rain forest – something his country has been doing with such ruthless and terrifying efficiency for so long.

Of course not. Mr Sharma is a clever man. He knows how many beans make five and he might very well argue that his talks in foreign chancelleries have more modest aims.

Important, no doubt, but modest. Trying to agree on an agenda is probably at the top of his list. COP26 will fail if the countries attending can’t agree on what they should be talking about.

But has Mr Sharma and his team never heard of Zoom? Some of us (I’m one) would prefer root canal surgery to Zoom ‘meetings’ but it can’t be denied they work. 

Even the most fuddy-duddy of our civil servants and banking bosses have discovered that during our endless lockdowns.

Mr Sharma has spent months jetting around the world ignoring the rules safe in the knowledge that they did not apply to him. Pictured: Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport on August 5

No, Mr Sharma has spent seven months jetting around the world ignoring the rules safe in the knowledge that they did not apply to him.

Just as Dominic Cummings did in a rather more bizarre jaunt in the early days of Covid. On one level it was high farce. Driving to a tourist site to test your eyesight? Honestly?

On another, it squandered a chunk of the commodity without which governments cannot ultimately survive. That commodity is trust. 

Matt Hancock took things to a different level. He managed effortlessly to combine an award-winning display of hypocrisy with a betrayal of trust on an epic scale. 

For 14 months he lectured the nation on the need to observe the latest ever-changing rules like some self-righteous teacher dealing with a class of rather dim children.

His tone was usually rather more in sorrow than in anger which, for most of us, made it all the more infuriating.

But at least, we assumed, he was personally setting an example to the class… and then we discovered the very opposite. Even as he was ordering us not to hug our grannies, he was doing much more than that with his mistress.

And even when the shocking truth emerged, he apparently thought he could weather the storm of public anger – encouraged, no doubt, by his boss’s refusal to sack him.

Not that Johnson’s own record was blameless. He and the apparently squeaky-clean Rishi Sunak came into contact with Sajid Javid after he had tested positive last month.

But instead of immediately self-isolating as millions of foot soldiers had been ordered to do, they tried ducking it by using a new so-called ‘pilot daily testing scheme’.

The public mood swung against them. Ordinary people had shown they were fully prepared to make sacrifices and obey the rules for the public good – but they expected the elite to do the same.

The Government was in trouble on the trust front even before the Mail broke the Sharma story yesterday. This time it was about money. Nothing new there.

This latest scandal has emerged because of a spat between another millionaire businessman, Mohamed Amersi, and Ben Elliot who’s the boss of an outfit called Quintessentially that offers people as rich as Mr Amersi all manner of services. Mr Elliot is also the co-chairman of the Conservative Party.

Their relationship broke down when Mr Amersi spilled the beans about an outfit called the ‘Advisory Board’, which he described as a secretive club that entitles members to attend a monthly meeting with a senior minister, such as the Prime Minister or the Chancellor. 

Mr Amersi himself coined the sinister phrase ‘access capitalism’ to describe what’s going on. 

What’s interesting is that the Conservative Party has made no attempt to deny that the ‘club’ exists and has done for some time, though you’d search in vain to find it in the party records. Their attitude is ‘nothing to see here… move along please’.

Mr Sharma (pictured with Boris Johnson) has a very important job. He’s the minister charged with running the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November

That was pretty much the message from the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps when he appeared on Today this week. 

He told an incredulous Nick Robinson that all those rich donors were getting for their £250,000 was an ‘update on the political landscape’. Really?

Maybe somebody should tell them that they could buy a lifetime’s subscription to the Mail for that. They’d get their ‘update’ and they’d have enough cash left over for a modest island in the Caribbean. Although they’ve probably got one of those already.

There is a very serious point here. In any healthy democracy, political parties need to be able to raise money. 

They couldn’t function otherwise. But democracy is corrupted if rich donors are able to influence government policy – let alone dictate it.

That’s why the electoral commission was set up 20 years ago. Its job is to make sure that the rules for running our democracy are fair and that it is ordinary voters, not the mega rich, who determine what sort of governments we have and what sort of policies they pursue.

One solution is to prohibit by law the amount of cash any individual can donate. Maybe fifty quid. 

And if that’s not enough then the taxpayer has to pick up the bill. So far, no major party has supported this. They know it would be about as popular as suggesting a tax on puppies.

But maybe we’d be a bit more receptive to the idea if we held our politicians in higher regard. If we trusted them.

It might help if they each splashed out on a little placard to hang on their office wall with the reverse of the hypocrite’s charter printed on it. It would read: ‘Don’t do as I say. Do as I do.’

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