Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday, Nadhim Zahawi said: “We make thousands of decisions and, of course, we don’t get every decision right.
“This has been an extraordinarily challenging time.”
The Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were forced into a U-turn on not self-isolating after an overwhelming backlash that saw them accused of having “one rule for them and another rule for everyone else”.
Downing Street had initially claimed the pair was taking part in a daily contact testing pilot and would not have to self-isolate before the decision was reversed.
The pair had been alerted by NHS Test and Trace as a contact of health secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday.
Asked whether the UK Government had made an error in announcing that Mr Johnson and the Chancellor were to take part in a pilot testing scheme, Mr Zahawi said: “Of course, and as soon as the Prime Minister realised that this would be wrong, he came out very clearly and said ‘we will self-isolate, that’s the right thing to do’.”
Cabinet minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the Prime Minister had “done the right thing” by self-isolating.
The business secretary insisted “I don’t think it was damaging” for Mr Johnson to have initially considered taking part in the pilot scheme that would have allowed him to continue working in Downing Street.
“I think he looked at the situation and he completely made the right decision … the second decision,” he told LBC.
“The first decision he reviewed … and he said he would isolate like everyone else.”
Mr Kwarteng added: “I think he has done the right thing.”
Mr Johnson said on Sunday: “We did look briefly at the idea of us taking part in the pilot scheme, which allows people to test daily, but I think it’s far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules and that’s why I’m going to be self-isolating until Monday, 26th July."
He added: “I know how frustrating it is, but I really do urge everybody to stick with the programme.”