Despite repeatedly asserting international travel – particularly to Britain – is simply too risky for Australians to undertake at the moment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has nonetheless been caught out on a side-trip in the UK while in the country for the G7 summit, a group which Australia is not a member of.
Reports this morning assert that the Morrison’s office spent weeks planning a side-trip for the Prime Minister while he was in the UK, wherein he retraced the steps of his family roots.
Last Sunday, Morrison is said to have visited the small village of St Keverne, around 45 minutes south of Cornwall where the G7 summit was taking place, to visit the place where his fifth great-grandfather, William Roberts, was born.
Media were not informed of Morrison’s side-trip, and his official photographer did not publish any photos despite being present. The trip itself may well have remained clandestine were it not for reporting on the local-area Cornwall Live website.
Per that report, Morrison was shown around the St Keverne church and graveyard by Karen Richards of the local historical society. In a comment posted directly to the Cornwall Live report, Richards herself disclosed that the trip had been planned for at least two weeks, and that the Prime Minister’s office had commissioned her to research Morrison’s family tree and locate associated gravesites.
“It was an honour to take welcome the Prime Minister to St Keverne. I had known of his visit for about a fortnight , but was unable to tell anyone about it, not even others who are also related to William Roberts, that are still living and working in the village today,” Richards’ post read.
Richards also stated that she “researched the gaps in his local family tree and located all the Roberts graves in the churchyard,” and that “the Prime Minister had hoped that he could visit the grave of his 6x Gt Grandparents John and Jane Roberts [nee Lugg] who were buried in the churchyard.”
Following the tour, Morrison visited the Three Tuns pub where, per Richards account, “he definitely deserved his ham sandwich and cold beer on such a hot day!”
The Prime Minister was then transported to nearby Newquay Airport where he flew out to London, before attending a dinner hosted by George Brandis.
Morrison has this morning quickly attempted to hose down criticism over the trip, which comes at a time where scores of Australians are stranded away from family overseas with little-to-no hope of seeing them until at least late 2022.
Speaking to his favoured 2GB station this morning, Morrison stated that pointing out the double standards of conducting a casual side-trip like that was “massively overstating” things.
“After the G7, on the way to the airport we stopped in another place, which just happens to be where my fifth great-grandfather was from, so I think that was pretty innocent,” Morrison said.
The Prime Minister is currently completing his 14-day quarantine period at The Lodge and conducting crucial meetings via video conference. That includes today’s national cabinet meeting that is set to focus on Australia’s very sloppy vaccine rollout. Why Morrison can conduct this one via video, but he absolutely had to be in the UK for the G7 summit in-person, remains to be seen.
Optics, folks. It’s all about the optics.