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Covid-19: Border Measures

Volume 689: debated on Monday 8 February 2021

Throughout the pandemic we have kept our border measures under constant review, including through regular liaison with the devolved Administrations, given their responsibilities in this policy area. On 27 January, the UK Government announced further action for outbound and inbound passengers to minimise travel across international borders and reduce the risk of covid-19 transmission.

I am sure I am not the only person on these islands who has been left to wonder why the party that has spent so much of the past five years talking about taking back control of borders seemed to completely fluff the opportunity to do so when there would have been almost unanimous support in the House. Will the Minister advise the House what defence the Prime Minister previously offered to the Cabinet for not closing the border on the Home Secretary’s advice?

Given the overall positive engagement that we have had with the Scottish Government in this policy area, it is disappointing to hear the tone of the hon. Gentleman’s question. In deciding on border measures, the UK Government must take into account a number of factors, including the rather obvious need to keep open key supply lines across the short straits, and routes to and from the Republic of Ireland.

To give some background, since the health measures came in we have conducted more than 3.7 million spot checks of passengers arriving at the border, as part of the new testing requirements, carriers are required to check test results, and a fine of up to £4,000 in England and Northern Ireland and £960 in Scotland and Wales can be levied on passengers who fail to comply with the requirements.