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Suntan cream? Check. Phone charger? Check. Weighty political biography to pretend to read in case there’s a photographer nearby? Check. Excuse ready for when the holiday turns into a PR nightmare? Check.
Picking a holiday destination is a hard enough task for politicians at the best of times. Jet off to the sun-drenched Caribbean island of Mustique, for example — as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson did in February — and opponents and voters question your commitment to the country and the job in hand. Stay home and go, say, walking in Wales — as Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May often did — and you have to spend your precious spare time walking in Wales!
When there’s a global pandemic on, the holiday choice becomes even more fraught.
Grant Shapps, the U.K. transport secretary, was left in a quandary ahead of his holiday in Spain, which was supposed to start last Saturday: Fly out with the family knowing full well that the U.K. was about to bring in a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving back from Spain, or cancel the holiday and face criticism that he was using his privileged knowledge of government plans for selfish purposes.
In the end, Shapps took the flight and had just a few hours to experience the classic Brit in Spain holiday (drinking the same brand of lager as back home, reading The Sun and refusing to eat “any of that foreign muck”) before flying back. His family stayed on to enjoy the sunshine,