TWO hours and 38 minutes. That’s all it took for the UK Government’s U-turn.

At 8am, Number 10 announced Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak had been contacted by NHS contact tracers. But instead of self-isolating, the high-ranking pair would be exempt thanks to a pilot scheme of daily tests.

At 10.38am, following a huge public backlash, it was confirmed the Prime Minister and Chancellor would be going into quarantine after all – meaning they’ll spend England’s “freedom day” in isolation.

The screeching U-turn has done little to appease critics.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted: "It seems @BorisJohnson and @RishiSunak are now going to be self-isolating, the strength of the backlash seems to have resulted in a climbdown. Such poor judgement that events have unfolded the way they have this morning. We are still in the situation of the virus rising sharply.

"Yet tomorrow sees England accelerating plans for social contact that will see numbers infected rise sharply. We can only conclude the aim is herd immunity but at what cost?"

READ MORE: Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak U-turn on plan to skip self-isolation

Colleague Ronnie Cowan commented: “The original decision was made because they live in an isolated bubble of self-entitlement and superiority.

“The Cabinet Office and Number 10 unit need people close to them to whisper in their ear you are just a man. They need to be transparent in their actions and motivation.”

Owen Thompson MP added: “Is the PM trying to be something of a Schrödingers PM – attempting to be simultaneously at Downing Street and not at Downing Street depending on what works best?”

Journalists also warned the decision could have serious consequences for the Government.

The Mirror’s Pippa Crerar wrote: “Govt u-turns within hours. But damage will already have been done. Mixed messaging ultimately damages faith in test and trace system, and costs lives. A serious misjudgement.”

No 10 confirmed the Prime Minister will be isolating at Chequers, his mansion retreat.

Paul Hutcheon, of the Daily Record, posted: “’I’d imagine it’s a bit easier to self-isolate in Chequers than a one bedroom flat with no garden.”

Labour politicians, meanwhile, raised further questions about the debacle.

Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson tweeted: “Before the U-turn, how many contacts did Johnson and Sunak make until they decided they would self-isolate after all?”

Other high-profile figures also got in on the act.

Football pundit Gary Neville was again vocal in his criticism of Johnson, posting: “13.00 : The PM states it was never the intention to take part in the pilot.”

Dr Mike Galsworthy, founder of Scientists for EU, added: “The stable door may be shut now … but the news of what Johnson & Sunak tried to pull has bolted and will now be merrily galloping around the globe.

“They have made our country a joke.”

Let us know what you think of this Tory government in the comments.