UK Border: Covid Protections

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:36 pm on 26th January 2021.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 12:36 pm, 26th January 2021

It is simply not accurate to say that there has been a comprehensive strategy in place since January 2020, and it is really quite extraordinary that a Home Secretary previously so obsessed with stopping people from entering the country and deporting those already here should have taken so long to properly address covid protections at the UK border.

As the Home Secretary knows, in April and May last year I wrote to her asking for comprehensive health protections at the border, and I referred to the measures that had been introduced in other countries in Europe and across the world. Last week, the Home Secretary admitted that we should have closed our borders earlier, so why did she fail to take precautions that she knew were needed? What stopped her? Was it her Cabinet colleagues? If so, why did she not resign and speak out, given the risk of increased transmission from people entering the country?

Finally, it is good that four-nations discussions are now taking place, but it is the Home Office that collects and holds passenger data, and the UK Border Force, as the Home Secretary explained, reports to the Home Office, a UK Government Department. Can she confirm that all proper co-operation will be afforded to the devolved Governments going forward?