Boris's Great Escape: PM packs up tent to go back to work

Boris’s Great Escape: PM flees tent at The Old School House on remote midge-infested Highlands peninsula where reality TV show was filmed – but is he going back to No10 to FINALLY face the music over exams crisis?

  • Prime Minister and his family holidayed in property called The Old School House in remote Scottish peninsula
  • Property cost £1,500 a week to hire, but needs a £200 deposit and has honesty box for using the phone
  • Mr Johnson’s group is understood to have left the hideaway last night and is on his way back to work
  • Number 10 Downing Street is 620 miles away, which the PM had been due to go back into on Monday
  • The holiday house is in Applecross, which warned visitors to say away during the coronavirus pandemic
  • It has recently endured a different type of invasion when millions of midges swarmed on the area
  • Location was also the spot where a BBC 2 reality TV show called the Great Escape filmed in 2009 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Great Escape was believed to have ended today after he fled his tent to leave the midge-infested Scottish peninsula where he holidayed through his government’s exam debacle.

The PM is understood to have left the designer bell tent he had been staying in with Carrie Symonds, their dog Dilyn and new baby Wilfred to go home.

It is 620 miles away from Downing Street so could have been a long drive to return back to work.

The area has been swamped with midges in recent days, with one camper witnessing a swarm of millions in the air. 

The Old School House, Mr Johnson’s £1,500-a-week three-bed property with private grounds. is on the Applecross Peninsular, which has a population of just 452, and was the location of the 2009 BBC 2 reality show Monty Halls’ Great Escape.

It is said the PM and his fiancée spent much of the break in the tent, which was set up just 50 yards from the scenic rental home.

The living room of the property boasts incredible views towards the picturesque islands of Raasay, Rona and Skye

Publicity for the property in Applecross, Scotland, boast of a well-equipped modern kitchen, featuring lovely high ceilings

The living room has a plethora of sofas and a smart wooden table and sideboard, featuring plates from the local area’s past

A small table in the corner of the living room could offer visitors a space to do some work or catch up on the week’s news

Boris Johnson’s Highlands hideaway: The Old School House on the Soottish peninsula of Applecross, where the PM has been staying this week while leaving his ministers to face the music of the A-level and GCSE exams debacle 

Field trip: Boris Johnson’s stay at ‘The Old School House’ in Scotland coincided with chaos for thousands of A-level and GCSE students whose grades were automatically downgraded by the government’s algorithm then reassed after a U-turn 

The PM would seem likely to approve of how seriously his holiday destination took the coronavirus lockdown.

In May residents placed a large notice along the famous Bealach na Bà road, part of the North Coast 500 route.

It read: ‘Attention Visitors! Businesses are closed in Applecross. No food/drink available. Public toilets locked. No facilities. Community isolating – please respect.’

There was also a BBC 2 reality TV show filmed there called Monty Halls’ Great Escape which was was broadcast back in 2009.

It saw Marine biologist Monty Halls ‘escape from the city’ to be a crofter, to raise animals and grow vegetables on his own farm.  

Mr Johnson’s three-bedroom cottage is fully booked up for most of this year and the start of the next, according to its website.

The kitchen is complete with all mod cons and has been immaculately cleaned in line with current coronavirus regulations

The house has three bedrooms, but the master has a smart double bed with gingham style duvet for guests to relax 

Another of the bedrooms has two single beds, but with a window offering terrific views of the Scottish Highlands

Boris Johnson stayed on the Applecross peninsula where BBC 2 reality TV show Monty Halls’ Great Escape was filmed in 2009

It describes itself as a ‘wonderful location to explore’ and boasts of how it is both ‘secluded and spacious’.

Ironically given the education crisis that engulfed his government while he was away, the cottage still retains signs of its former life as a schoolhouse.

The cosy-looking property makes much of it ‘part-panelled living room’  and has its own woodburner.

It has its own water supply from a spring and requires a £200 deposit to book, but has an honesty box if people want to use the telephone.

A listing for the rental exclaims: ‘Relax and unwind in this former school house. Secluded, yet within a wonderful location to explore. Excellent walking and climbing nearby.

‘This secluded and spacious cottage, with its own walled garden, enjoys a gloriously sunny position on the seashore with spectacular views towards the islands of Raasay, Rona and Skye.

The master bedroom also has a small dressing table to get ready before taking any of the walks available in the area

The third bedroom only has one bed so would be perfect for a child to be based, with plenty of space for their belongings

Just yards away is the sea, which publicity for the property says offers a’ gloriously sunny position on the seashore’

A wood burner in the living room solves any issues with the cold in the house, which also has full central heating throughout

The house has three bedrooms, but only has one bathroon, which comes with a shower over the corner bath, and toilet

The Old School House is remote from any other buildings in the locality so is the perfect way to unwind from life’s stresses

‘Reached via a quarter-mile track, this former school house has been tastefully converted, whilst retaining interesting original features; formerly classrooms, the part-panelled living room and well-equipped modern kitchen feature lovely high ceilings, and there is a large picture window in the hall, ideal for viewing wonderful sunsets and abundant wildlife.’

Unlike previous prime ministers, including David Cameron and Theresa May, who have allowed the Press to take pictures during their summer breaks, Mr Johnson decided not to.

No 10 insists Mr Johnson has been kept briefed on the exams situation while at the Scottish property.

But yesterday, when the Daily Mail offered the Prime Minister the opportunity to issue a public statement on the A-levels furore, Downing Street declined.

Mr Johnson travelled to Scotland with fiancée Carrie last weekend. 

The Old School House is believed to be connected to the neighbouring land, where the canvas tent was set up this week

The bell-style camping tent was staked out just yards from the sealine  and looked to have plenty of space for a family


The Prime Minister was seen in the tiny 452-populated community earlier this week by curious locals

Yesterday, Mr Johnson was seen coming and going to talk with his six-strong security team, whose three vehicles have been parked outside throughout his stay.

At one stage, Mr Johnson pulled on a woollen hat in the bracing coastal winds.

The Prime Minister’s presence in the remote corner of Scotland has caused a flutter of excitement among those who have managed to catch a glimpse of him.

One holidaymaker told the Mail how he was taken aback when the Tory leader stumbled past him on a hiking trail on Wednesday.

He described how Mr Johnson, whose face was covered with a specialist hat designed to keep away the area’s notorious midge population, was joined on the walk by a small entourage.

As well as two close-protection guards who are routinely at the Prime Minister’s side, he was joined by Miss Symonds, a local guide and an unknown woman who was walking Dilyn.

The tourist said: ‘It just looked like any other normal family day out.’

Last night, opposition politicians said Mr Johnson should have interrupted his stay to address the exams fiasco.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrats’ education spokesman, said the Prime Minister’s silence on the issue had been ‘deafening’.

She added: ‘The very least the Prime Minister should have said was sorry. Holiday or not, he must apologise for the impact of this fiasco on young people, and for choosing ‘yes men’ over competent ministers.’

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Instead of heeding warnings and addressing this looming crisis before it was too late, the Prime Minister has been invisible.

‘Parents, young people and teachers deserve a public apology from the Prime Minister and a plan for how he will get a grip of his Government.’

On Monday, the Government performed a U-turn on A-level results just days after they were published, allowing students to receive their teacher-assessed grades, instead of those moderated by a controversial algorithm.

The row has led to pressure on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and triggered charges of government incompetence.

Sir Bernard Jenkin, the Tory chairman of the liaison select committee, yesterday broke ranks to express concern that Mr Johnson’s Government had been repeatedly refusing to take the blame for its mistakes.

He told Radio 4’s The World At One that there was a ‘sort of pattern setting in’ under Mr Johnson’s watch, whereby ‘something goes wrong and it is the permanent secretary’s fault or it is some public body’s fault’.

Earlier this year, Mr Johnson was called a ‘part-time prime minister’ by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to cut short a break to respond to flooding in the UK.

The Prime Minister last month said he would be working ‘flat out’ through the summer but revealed plans to escape for a mini-break at some point.

He said: ‘I would encourage people still to think of wonderful staycations here in the UK. There are all sorts of fantastic destinations, the best in the world.

All my happiest holiday memories are of holiday vacations here in the UK, bucket-and-spade jobs or whatever, and I thoroughly recommend it.’

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