CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak did not stand by Boris Johnson's side during his Commons Covid apology – because he was 200 miles away at a local business event instead.

The Treasury chief wasn't in his own constituency either. He chose to visit another Conservative-held area as the PM faced a packed Prime Minister's Questions session amidst the biggest scandal of his tenure.

That revolves around the wine-charged "work event" held in the 10 Downing Street garden last year, along with several other government gatherings.

The PM turned to Justice Secretary Dominic Raab between questions on "partygate", with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss at his other side.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross calls for Boris Johnson to step down amid No 10 party scandals

Instead of taking his usual place on the Conservative frontbench, Sunak – named the public's favourite for the next PM in recent polling – travelled to Devon to join the local MP on a visit to a local business.

Sunak, one of the most senior members of Johnson's government, joined Selaine Saxby in Ilfracombe to visit a firm taking on more staff.

And he posted a pic from his trip on Twitter, saying: "Excited to be in Ilfracombe this morning with Selaine Saxby.

"I'm visiting Pall Corporation who protect and purify pharmaceutical drugs including a majority of UK Covid vaccines.

"They’re announcing £60 million of investment at this site creating 200 new local jobs."

Sunak's decision to distance himself from Johnson did not go unnoticed amongst MPs. His opposition counterpart, Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, branded him "the invisible Chancellor" and asked: "On today of all days – where is the Chancellor?"

But Saxby spoke up for Sunak, tweeting this afternoon that she was "absolutely delighted to welcome" him for the drug firm's announcement and a "private event with many local businesses".