United Kingdom

Chancellor Rishi Sunak warns Boris Johnson about Britain's draconian border restrictions

The Chancellor has warned Boris Johnson that the UK's travel restrictions are 'out of step' with its international rivals as he pushes for holiday rules to be relaxed, according to reports.

The Sunday Times reported that Rishi Sunak has written to the Prime Minister about the damage that the current border rules are doing to the country's economy, particularly its tourism and hospitality sector.

He is said to be calling for Britain to take advantage of its successful vaccination programme by opening up further.

The No 11 Downing Street incumbent has reportedly told the Conservative Party leader that the UK's entry and exit rules are 'out of step with our international competitors'.

The Chancellor has warned Boris Johnson that the UK's travel restrictions are 'out of step' with its international rivals as he pushes for holiday rules to be relaxed, according to reports

The newspaper quotes a source, who it claims is familiar with the letter, as saying: 'Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions.'

The report comes before ministers are due to meet next week to set the travel rules that will be in place for most of August.

Treasury sources did not deny Mr Sunak had written to his Downing Street neighbour but said the communication was not related to next week's review.

The UK Government has faced criticism over changes to its border policy during the coronavirus pandemic, with France the latest to be irked after it was placed on a newly-created 'amber-plus' list as part of the so-called traffic light system.

The fresh designation, in response to suggestions of growing cases of the Beta variant that was first discovered in South Africa, saw the quarantine exemption for the fully vaccinated scrapped, meaning those returning from France had to quarantine for 10 days.

The Sunday Times reported that Rishi Sunak has written to the Prime Minister about the damage that the current border rules are doing to the country's economy, particularly its tourism and hospitality sector

Analysts have predicted that Spain could be the next country to go on the amber-plus list, in what would be a blow to British tourists given Spain is the UK's most popular tourist destination.

There is speculation that France might be promoted back to amber when the Government updates the travel lists on August 5, restoring the ability for the double jabbed to skip self-isolation.

No 10 sources said it was too early to speculate on what changes might be made next week, with ministers yet to see the latest data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which assesses the risks presented by international travel.

They pointed to the decision to open up travel to those who are fully vaccinated coming from the US and European Union as an example of Mr Johnson's own desire to see more open borders in Britain.

Mr Sunak's push for travel restrictions to be softened comes only days after scientists advising the Government on coronavirus warned, in papers published on Friday, that any increase in foreign travel this summer is concerning.

The daily average of coronavirus-related deaths, those dying within 28 days of a positive test, has increased by 9% over the past week, with hospital admissions up by almost a fifth.

Government data showed a further 71 people died as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 129,654, and a further 26,144 lab-confirmed cases were also recorded.

With more than 900 people reported to have been admitted to hospital on Saturday, meaning 5,900 Covid patients are currently being treated in wards, fresh incentives are being rolled out to entice young people into getting vaccinated.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said around 67% of people aged 18 to 29 in England have received a first dose, and it is hoping to boost those figures with offers of vouchers and discounts for popular takeaways and taxi for those who get a jab.

Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims are among the brands who will be offering incentives to encourage youngsters to get inoculated.

Taxi app firm Uber will be sending reminders to all users in August encouraging them to get jabbed, DHSC said.

The company will offer discounted Uber rides and meals on its Uber Eats platform for young adults who receive a vaccine.

Bolt, another ride-hailing app, will offer 'free ride credit' to vaccination centres following a similar scheme earlier this year when it offered £250,000 worth of free rides to London vaccination facilities.

Deliveroo is planning to give vouchers to young people who get jabbed.

The DHSC said further details on partnerships will be released 'in due course' and other incentives 'could include vouchers or discount codes', along with competitions and promotional offers for restaurants.

MPs: Guarantee British tourists the 'traffic lights' won't change while they are away - as millions of summer holidays risk being thrown into chaos

By Anna Mikhailova and Harriet Dennys For The Mail On Sunday 

British holidaymakers should be given a 'guarantee' that the traffic light rules that apply when they touch down abroad will be the same for their return, MPs have said.

It comes as millions of summer holidays risk being thrown into chaos by plans for a danger list that could force people to pay for hotel quarantine upon returning to the UK.

Last week Ministers agreed in principle a new 'amber watch list' which could mean amber countries go straight to red.

In an attempt to protect holidaymakers who have already gone to an amber country, MPs last night called for a guarantee they would not have to quarantine because their destination was placed on the red list while they were abroad.

Ministers agreed in principle to a new 'amber watch list'. MPs called for a guarantee tourists would not have to quarantine if a location was placed on the red list while they were abroad. Pictured: British holidaymakers leaving Ibiza airport on July 16

Most viable European holiday destinations, including Spain and Italy, are amber. There are fears both countries could be moved to the tougher watch list as early as this week

It would mean people who flew out under one set of rules would be allowed to fly back on the same rules, even if the country designation changed while there.

Sir John Hayes, who leads the Common Sense group of Tory MPs, said: 'It is really important holidaymakers know where they stand. The worst in the world would be if you have flown somewhere and find you will not be able to get back except at significant cost.'

He called on Ministers to 'get the balance right' and not 'move the goal posts' for fully vaccinated people who were told they could fly to amber countries without needing to isolate.

'Hopefully we can sort something out that reassures people that if they do embark on a trip without being stranded. It's common sense.'

Henry Smith, the Conservative MP for Crawley, said there should be a time-limited window in which people can fly back under the same rules they flew out on.

He called on Ministers to introduce 'some sort of fortnight guarantee if you travelled in good faith, you should be allowed to come back in on the conditions you left.'

The MP added the current system is 'really putting people off international travel, to places that are arguably safer than many parts of the UK. The real effects will be more job losses in the travel and aviation sectors.'

The new traffic light plan comes just weeks after double-jabbed Brits were told they could go to amber countries without having to self-isolate on their return. However France was moved to an 'amber plus' list and exempted.

Most viable European holiday destinations, including Spain and Italy, are amber. There are fears both countries could be moved to the tougher watch list as early as this week. 

Tom Hunt, the Conservative who also sits on the Common Sense Group of MPs, said that, unless the Government this week 'significantly' expands the green list, people flying to amber list countries should be given more protection.

Mr Hunt said giving people a guarantee they can return on the same rules they flew out with is 'reasonable' and called on the Government to consider it.

The MP called on Ministers to 'chart a balance between keeping an eye on variants and borders, and giving certainty to holidaymakers.

Mr Hunt also warned of the mental health impact on holidaymakers finally trying to get a break. 'If you're checking your phone every hour when over in one of these countries, anxious about it changing category, it counteracts the whole point of a holiday,' he said.

Claire Brophy, 40, from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, flew to Alicante yesterday to see her parents for the first time in a year.

If Spain moved on to a red list she would have to fly home immediately to allow time to self-isolate before the start of her two children's school term and pay about £600 for Covid tests.

She said: 'Changing the traffic lights for Spain absolutely shouldn't be allowed: the cost of that for our family would be ludicrous. If this trip was just for a holiday, I wouldn't bother. But I haven't seen my family since last August.'

She and husband Damien, 39, booked their second vaccinations when the Government said double-jabbed passengers travelling to amber countries would be exempt from quarantine from July 19.

But Ms Brophy is now angry the freedom promised by the vaccine could be taken away.

Last night the travel industry attacked Ministers' traffic lights approach and 'chaos' over travel.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry body Airlines UK, which represents the UK's major airlines, said: 'Cooking up yet another traffic light tier at will – the sixth since the Global Travel Taskforce was published – would be a further blow to demand in the middle of what is supposed to be the peak summer season.

'The Government must focus on getting more countries on to the green list during its review next week. That's the single best way to provide the necessary reassurance to families desperate to get away.'

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