News

Tony Blair lobbied Hancock to take UAE off red list ‘as he does business there’ Pandemic Diaries say

Tony Blair personally lobbied Matt Hancock to remove the United Arab Emirates from the travel red list because he “does a lot of business there,” the former health secretary said.

Hancock also allowed the former prime minister to circumvent quarantine upon his return from a signing ceremony at the White House in the United States.

The Pandemic Diaries reveals that Blair regularly contacted the cabinet minister throughout 2020 to ask for favors or discuss policy.

In a July 2020 exchange, Blair protested that the United Arab Emirates was still on the red quarantine list, stating that they were only reporting hundreds of cases a day “because they do a lot of testing.”

Mr Hancock said he had to “resist the urge to throw back an eye-roll emoji at that old chestnut.” Blair then argued that “the disease is well controlled there” because “virtually all cases are in the migrant worker community and are asymptomatic.” ‘Hmm,’ Hancock wrote in his journal.

Tony Blair Lobbied Hancock To Take Uae Off Red List

Tony Blair personally lobbied Matt Hancock to remove the United Arab Emirates from the travel red list because he “does a lot of business there,” the former health secretary said.

At the time, travelers from all countries bar select “low risk” exemptions, which included some European vacation destinations during the summer months, were required to self-isolate at home for two weeks.

But the former health secretary allowed Blair to avoid spending 14 days in quarantine upon her return from the United States, where she attended an event at the White House in September 2020.

The former prime minister had been invited to attend a signing ceremony for the peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, but the Foreign Ministry refused to grant an exemption.

Blair contacted Hancock directly to say that he would “literally attend the ceremony and fly directly again” and that “if he were a government minister, he would have a diplomatic exemption.”

The Pandemic Diaries Reveals That Mr Blair Regularly Contacted The Cabinet Minister Throughout 2020 To Ask For Favors Or Discuss Policy.

The Pandemic Diaries Reveals That Mr Blair Regularly Contacted The Cabinet Minister Throughout 2020 To Ask For Favors Or Discuss Policy.

The Pandemic Diaries reveals that Mr Blair regularly contacted the cabinet minister throughout 2020 to ask for favors or discuss policy.

Mr. Hancock writes: ‘I can’t believe the FCDO [Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office] you are cheating on him like this. He is not a junior minister: he is a former prime minister.

“I told him that of course he should have a waiver and that I would fix it immediately. He seemed relieved and grateful.

A month later, when news of Mr Hancock’s intervention reached the press, he wrote: “No apologies: Blair may no longer be in government, but he is a former prime minister and was clearly on diplomatic business.” Even junior ministers are exempt from quarantine for such purposes.

The 14-day self-isolation rule was put in place in June 2020 with fines of up to £1,000 for those who broke it. Until then, the British were ‘warned… against all but essential international travel’.

During the summer, travelers from some “low-risk” countries, including France and Spain, received a waiver to allow summer vacations.

But there was chaos at borders and airports as quarantine was reintroduced at short notice amid rising cases. The mandatory hotel quarantine system was introduced in February 2021.

Blair’s lobbying on the red travel list is just one of many conversations with Hancock recorded in his diaries, which reveal moments of both cooperation and tension.

In June 2021, the couple avoided “fireworks” on the Andrew Marr Show after Hancock accused Blair’s think tank of a “hostile” report on vaccine passports and NHS enforcement, saying it had “a lot of inaccuracies”.

Blair responded the following Sunday morning saying that “it was all a little misunderstanding”.

“At the event, he went out of his way to praise the application on Marr,” Hancock said. “He decently volunteered to say some support for me and the team anytime he could help.”

But Hancock twice accused the former prime minister of trying to take credit for government decisions. In December 2020, he claimed that Mr Blair “had heard” that he was preparing to announce a longer period between the first and second doses of the vaccine, and “is asking for it before it happens”. .

Following the announcement, on December 30, he wrote: ‘Who should show up to claim the credit but none other than Tony Blair! He let it go. If he can help us land it, great.

At the same time, Mr. Hancock contacts Mr. Blair to counter his ‘crazy’ suggestion that the vaccine effort should focus on students, as they are more likely to spread the disease.

He wrote: ‘Taking a deep breath, I kept my cool and sent him a message suggesting we talk. ‘Interesting article on vaccines’, I began cheerfully (I want to keep it on the side).

‘Then some flattery, ‘I think some of what you say is very wise.’ Then, ‘But other parts aren’t quite right, would it be helpful to have a briefing?’

Mr Blair replied before dawn to accept the offer, saying: “If there’s anything you think shouldn’t be said, happy to take it.”

In January 2021, Mr Hancock reported that Mr Blair was involved behind the scenes in trying to secure additional vaccine doses for the UK. He wrote: “Mr Blair is again trying to be helpful and has been privately trying to get additional shots from Johnson & Johnson… well worth a try.”

Blair worked for the United Arab Emirates through his private advisory firm Tony Blair Associates, earning him millions with a variety of controversial clients, including the United Arab Emirates, oil companies and Kazakhstan’s authoritarian government.

He was accused of a conflict of interest in 2017, which he denied at the time, when it emerged that he had been paid huge sums by the United Arab Emirates while working as a UN special envoy to the Middle East.

Before winding up the company, its website said it allowed Blair to provide “strategic advice” on “political and economic trends and government reforms.”

Blair was contacted for comment.

WE HAVE A VACCINE! CLICK HERE TO READ THE LATEST EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT ON THE MAIL+

Show More

Jacky

The author of what'snew2day.com is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and information.

Related Articles

Back to top button