Theresa May attacks Governments travel ban

Posted on 12th June, 2021


Theresa May attacks Government's travel ban: 'global Britain shut for business' 10 June 2021


Telegraph video clip & article "Global Britain is ‘shut for business’, warns Theresa May ‘Incomprehensible’ travel restrictions, in spite of vaccine success, are costing jobs and crippling the country, says former prime minister"


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Hansard - Govt House of Commons Transcript 2:22pm 10 June 2021

"Mrs Theresa May

(Maidenhead) (Con)


I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.


This is a disappointing debate, because one year and one week ago this very issue was raised in this House. A different Minister was at the Dispatch Box at the time, but she promised me that the Government were working hard across the sector to


“get internationally agreed standard health measures”—[Official Report, 3 June 2020; Vol. 676, c. 850.]


in place. One year on, we are no further forward. Indeed, we have a devastated industry, jobs lost and global Britain shut for business.


More than not being any further forward, we have gone backwards. We now have more than 50% of the adult population vaccinated—it is a wonderful programme—yet we are more restricted on travel than we were last year. In 2020, I went to Switzerland in August and South Korea in September. There was no vaccine but travel was possible. This year, there is a vaccine but travel is not possible. I really do not understand the Government’s stance.


Of course, it is permissible for a person to travel to countries on the amber list, provided that it is practicable for them to quarantine when they come back, but Government Ministers tell people that they must not travel and cannot go on holiday to places on the amber list. The messaging is mixed and the system is chaotic. Portugal was put on the green list, people went to the football, then Portugal was put on the amber list, leaving holidaymakers scrabbling for flights and devastated families having to cancel their plans. That is not to mention the impact on the airlines, on travel agents here and on the travel and tourist industry in our longest-standing trading partner in Europe.


Business travel is practically impossible: global Britain has shut its doors to business and investors. In a normal pre-pandemic year, passengers travelling through Heathrow spent £16 billion throughout the country, including at places such as Legoland Windsor, which is partly in my constituency. That has been lost.


There are some facts on which the Government need to be upfront with the British people and about which Ministers need to think a bit more when they make decisions.

  • First, we will not eradicate covid-19 from the UK. There will not be a time when we can say that there will never be another case of covid-19 in this country.
  • Secondly, variants will keep on coming. There will be new variants every year. If the Government’s position is that we cannot open up travel until there are no new variants elsewhere in the world, we will never be able to travel abroad ever again.
  • The third fact that the Government need to state much more clearly is that sadly people will die from covid here in the UK in the future, as 10,000 to 20,000 people do every year from flu.

We are falling behind the rest of Europe in our decisions to open up, as my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Sir Graham Brady) has indicated. The Government may say all they have, as the Minister has, about the importance of the aviation industry, but they need to decide whether they want an airline industry and aviation sector in the UK or not, because at the rate they are going, they will not have one, certainly not as a key sector in the economy, as it was before the pandemic. It is incomprehensible, I think, that one of the most heavily vaccinated countries in the world is the one that is most reluctant to give its citizens the freedoms those vaccinations should support." (PDF)


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