Prime Minister Scott Morrison received backlash earlier this week when it was revealed he had visited a pub in the UK during the G7 summit while Australians are effectively banned from leaving the country.
Now it’s emerged the PM and his entourage found time to visit not just one pub in the British county of Cornwall – but three.
While US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were hob nobbing with the Queen at a formal G7 dinner, Mr Morrison was instead enjoying some “proper English pub grub” at the Old Quay House hotel, 60kms away.
Two days later, he had a “cold pint and a sandwich” at the Three Tuns, near Falmouth.
“Very nice,” said one person on the Facebook page of the Old Quay House after it posted a picture of Mr Morrison and Australia’s high commissioner to the UK George Brandis outside the pub.
“Just a shame he won’t let anyone else travel there!”
He’d earlier been snapped at the Jamaica Inn in Launceston, physically close to pub staff and without wearing a mask despite warning about rising Covid-19 cases in the UK.
A spokesperson for the PM told news.com.au in a statement that the pub stops were part of the PM’s schedule.
“The restaurants were scheduled lunch and dinner spots to allow the Prime Minister to eat, outside of the scheduled G7 meetings,” the spokesman said.
“At all times, the PM followed local covid regulations and protocol, including wearing a mask while indoors.”
PM’s Cornwall ‘pub crawl’
Meanwhile, the anger in Australia has been noticed in Britain. Local news website Cornwall Live referred to the bar trips as a “pub crawl” and that Mr Morrison had not “got stick back home” for his very public dinner plans while Aussies are “imprisoned”.
Australian residents can currently only fly abroad, New Zealand excepted, with official permission. The PM has given little indication for when Australians might be able to see family overseas again and has suggested that vaccinations may not be enough to reopen the borders. Almost 30 per cent of Australians were born overseas.
Australia not invited to several official G7 events
Last week Mr Morrison flew to Cornwall to attend the G7 summit, where he met with leaders from the wealthy democratic nations of the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Australia was a guest along with India, South Korea and South Africa.
Mr Morrison later travelled to London to announce a free trade deal with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson followed by a chat with the Queen at Windsor Castle.
During his meeting with the Queen, Mr Morrison told Her Majesty that she was “quite the hit” with the G7 leaders.
“So you were down there but I didn’t see you, in Cornwall?” the Queen asked the PM.
“No, that was the G7 leaders,” he replied.
Not being a G7 member, Australia was not involved with the first day of the summit, Mr Morrison was not in the official G7 picture nor was he a guest at the formal dinner hosted by the Queen at the Eden Project attraction on Friday, June 11.
The same night that the other leaders and the Royals dined on fish caught in the waters around Cornwall followed by Cornish cheeses and clotted cream fudge, Mr Morrison and his staff were at a pub in Hayle, western Cornwall, having a meal and a pint.
“We had the absolute privilege of welcoming the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and the Australian High Commissioner to The Old Quay House last night for dinner,” stated a post on the pub’s Facebook page with beaming images of Mr Morrison and Mr Brandis.
“We were overjoyed that they wanted to stay local and enjoy a relaxed evening with us, tasting the delights of our proper English pub grub.”
Mr Morrison also popped up at the Three Tuns in St Keverne, 40km from the Carbis Bay summit venue.
He visited there on Sunday, June 13, the final day of the G7 meeting.
“We were extremely honoured to welcome the Australian Prime Minister to the Tuns yesterday afternoon for a cold pint and a sandwich … as well as the Australian High Commissioner for one of our Sunday roasts,” said the pub on Facebook, also with a picture of the PM.
Mr Morrison popped into the Three Tuns after visiting a local churchyard to look at the grave of one of his ancestors, William Roberts, who was transported to Australia in the 18th century, reported the Falmouth Packetnewspaper.
The Three Tuns’ owners Trevor and Margaret Richards said they were “thrilled” when they were told by police that the PM and his “entourage” would be dining.
“We fully expected him to dine in our private function suite, however he was adamant that he wanted to eat within our bar area, which we thought was down to earth and great for our other guests to experience.”
While many people on the various pubs’ social media pages have welcomed the visit (“Hope he had a gooday [sic] mate,” said one), many Australians were less impressed by the multiple pub meals.
“I would love to go home and see my family in [Cornwall]. I’m stuck in Australia … can’t believe he’s there,” said one.
“Swanning around the pubs while Australians are stranded in the UK and can’t come home because the country is deemed ‘unsafe’,” said another.
There was a similar sentiment on the Facebook page of the Jamaica Inn.
“Looks like a great restaurant! Sadly it highlights the double standards. ScoMo is trying to tell Australians that UK is covid riddled and if it wasn’t for him keeping borders completely shut we would all risk a sure death,” one commenter said.
“We are not allowed to leave and (families) are not allowed to come. Yet politicians and celebrities travel freely.”
Only travel when ‘medical advice’ says so
Last week, Mr Morrison used the UK as an example of why no detailed plan could be given of when travel restrictions might be lifted.
“(In the UK) they have vaccination rates in the 70s. And they have 4000 cases a day, daily. 4000 cases a day,” Mr Morrison told Perth radio station 6PR.
“If you’re suggesting that we should be aiming for a position where we can have 4000 cases a day, then no, I don’t think Australians would agree with you,” he said.
Mr Morrison did not mention commentary from the UK’s National Health Service that most people who have been hospitalised in the last few weeks were those that had not received a jab.
When he was asked by a journalist in the UK what percentage of Australians would need to be vaccinated before travel could resume, the PM said “we haven’t set any mark on that”.
When he was pushed on when travel could restart, he replied. “When the medical advice suggests that we should.”
Mr Morrison has now headed to France to visit President Emmanuel Macron.