Wednesday 20 January 2021 / 10:30 PM Coronavirus / Nick Thomas-Symonds

Labour demands Home Secretary comes to Parliament to update on border Covid security

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, has written to Priti Patel to urge her to make a statement to Parliament following her comments on the Government’s border policy.

In the letter, the Shadow Home Secretary expresses concerns that the government missed vital opportunities to stop the spread of the virus being imported. Labour is calling for urgent answers on the steps the Government is taking to learn from its mistakes and develop a comprehensive strategy for protecting our borders against emerging strains of the virus.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said:

“The Home Secretary’s comments show that the Government’s chaotic border policy led to vital opportunities to stop the spread of the virus being missed.”

“Conservative incompetence meant Ministers were too slow to take action on securing our borders against Covid and have failed to enact a clear strategy throughout this crisis, including on border testing.”

“The Home Secretary should – urgently – come to Parliament to update on what has been learned from these critical mistakes and outline a proper strategy for protecting our borders against emerging strains the virus.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

Full text of the letter

Dear Home Secretary,

I write in relation to your comments this week claiming you said the UK should have closed borders in March 2020.

This revelation is deeply concerning as it shows the Government’s chaotic border policy led to vital opportunities to stop the spread of the virus being imported and further compound’s the fact that under your leadership the Home Office has lurched from one crisis to another when managing the ongoing risk of Covid and additional strains at the UK Border.

As you know, we have continually called for a more strategic approach to border security against Covid, including action on border testing. Yet it was only this Monday that mandatory negative tests were introduced – and even that commencement date was delayed due to incompetence.

The lack of Government strategy and grip in this vital area means that we see lurches from one crisis to another.

Your personal view that the borders should have been closed in March 2020 is inconsistent with Government policy.  It is imperative that you clarify your position, and that of the UK Government, on this vital matter. As a result, I request that you come before Parliament, without delay, to outline:

  • What lessons have been learned in the past 10 months?
  • Why your comments in private differ from UK Government policy in March 2020, and why it took a further four months until formal quarantining was introduced on 8 June?
  • What steps are being taken to develop a comprehensive strategy for protecting our borders against emerging strains of the virus?

Yours sincerely,

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP

Shadow Home Secretary