25th August 2020

In_pictures Coronavirus: How has the pandemic changed politicians’ holidays?

In_pictures Coronavirus: How has the pandemic changed politicians’ holidays?


in_pictures David and Samantha Cameron on holiday in Aljezur, in the southwestern coast of Portugal, on July 26, 2013Image copyright

Usually around this time of year we start getting pictures of our politicians on their summer holidays – David Cameron admiring fish, Theresa May staying on brand with a low-key walking holiday or Gordon Brown really staying on brand by looking slightly uncomfortable by a lake.

But like so much about 2020, the situation has changed.

This year, our leaders seem reluctant to show off their holiday snaps.

With the country in recession, many facing uncertain job prospects and others having had to cancel their foreign holidays, it is not hard to see why politicians have opted to keep their holiday pics to themselves.

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Gordon Brown on holiday in 2008

The pandemic also seems to have changed where MPs are going on their holidays with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps serving as a cautionary tale to those seeking a bit of foreign sun.

He flew out to Spain for a family holiday, but quickly headed back home when the 14-day quarantine rule was imposed on those returning from the country.

“I think it’s right to get back to work in the UK as soon as possible in order to help handle the situation,” he said.

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Paul Scully

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Paul Scully posted this picture from Lanzarote shortly before quarantine rules were applied to Spain

“Best turn to gin,” was the reaction of London Minister Paul Scully who was holidaying in Lanzarote when the quarantine rules for Spain were introduced – although he also added that he would “still be able to work” despite the requirement to self-isolate.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove chose instead to cancel his planned holiday to the Balearic Islands.

And although his wife, the columnist Sarah Vine, headed off with their children to North Devon to fulfil “an absurd Famous Five fantasy” – it is not clear if she was accompanied by the secretary of state.

In_pictures ‘Invisible man’

So like many others, politicians have chosen to holiday in the UK.

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PA Media

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Cornwall has been a popular destination for those seeking to avoid a foreign holiday

Labour leader Keir Starmer is taking a break in the New Forest, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opted for a camping holiday in Scotland with his partner Carrie Symonds and their son Wilfred.

But a prime minister is never able to switch off completely – and Mr Johnson has faced criticism for failing to publicly intervene in the recent A-levels crisis.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted “where is the PM? Not a good look hiding in the middle of a crisis” while the Daily Star mocked up a picture of Mr Johnson as “The Invisible Man” for its front page.

Acting Lib Dem Leader Sir Ed Davey called on Mr Johnson to cut short his holiday, adding that the PM “cannot be bothered to get back to work during the biggest exams crisis in a generation”.

However, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood defended the prime minister arguing that despite being on holiday he would still be aware of “every aspect” of the situation and “probably will be intervening”.

“Boris Johnson has had his own personal tough year – suffering from Covid-19 as well – therefore he is allowed to recharge,” he added.

Some politicians have decided the safest route is to just forego a holiday all together. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told a press conference: “I’m fully occupied with what we’re doing at the moment.”

In_pictures ‘Covid-compliant’

However, despite the risks of revealing too much about their holiday – or going on holiday at all – a few MPs have been happy to share some details.

Conservative George Freeman let his followers know he was taking a “covid-compliant” honeymoon.

And Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry posted pictures of her and her sister looking delighted to be on a pedalo in France.


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