Patel cracks down on travel; Sturgeon tells Johnson his trip is ‘not essential’

Beyond England Daily news Downing Street Law and Justice

Priti Patel is cracking down on travellers with British people to be banned from leaving the UK and facing £200 fines if they fail to provide a valid reason for travel.

The home secretary will deploy police to interrogate people at borders and ports, while travellers will have to complete new declaration forms – which will be checked by airlines – explaining the reasons for their journey.

Patel told the House of Commons: “People should be staying at home, unless they have a valid reason to leave,” adding: “Going on a holiday is not a valid reason.”

Returning Britons to hotel-quarantine for 10 days

Travel exemptions will be reviewed to ensure the system is not abused, the home secretary said, while confirming Britons returning from 30 high risk destinations will have to hotel-quarantine for 10 days.

Patel cited evidence from Border Force of “people turning up” at St Pancras with their skis.

“That is clearly not acceptable,” said the home secretary, who also criticised UK social media influencers who have been posting content from Dubai.

“We see plenty of influencers on social media showing off about which parts of the world that they are in, mainly in sunny parts of the world. Going on holiday is not an exemption and it is important that people stay at home.”

Sturgeon ‘not ecstatic’ about Johnson’s Scotland trip

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Boris Johnson to rethink his trip to Scotland this week suggesting the prime minister’s visit is not essential.

Johnson is expected to make a trip to Scotland on Thursday – in apparent contravention of the “stay at home” lockdown in place across the border.

Scotland’s first minister told the daily coronavirus briefing that she was “not ecstatic” about the prime minister’s visit.

‘We have a duty to lead by example’ – Sturgeon

Sturgeon said: “We are living in a global pandemic and every day I stand and look down the camera and say ‘don’t travel unless it is essential, work from home if you possibly can’ – that has to apply to all of us.

“People like me and Boris Johnson have to be in work for reasons people understand, but we don’t have to travel across the UK. We have a duty to lead by example.”

Sturgeon revealed she questioned if a proposed trip from Edinburgh to a vaccination centre in Aberdeen was “genuinely essential” and decided it wasn’t.

She explained:”If I’m standing here every day saying to all of you watching, don’t leave your house unless it is essential, I have a duty to subject myself to that same discipline and decision making.

“I would say me travelling from Edinburgh to Aberdeen to visit a vaccine centre is not essential – Boris Johnson travelling from London to wherever in Scotland to do the same is not essential.

“If we’re asking other people to abide by that then I’m sorry, I think it’s incumbent on us to do likewise.”

‘Petty politics’ and ‘staged photoshoots’

Scottish secretary of state Alister Jack said Johnson will go “wherever he needs to go in his vital work against this pandemic”.

Jack hit out at the “petty politics” around the PM’s first trip of 2021 after the SNP’s Christina McKelvie – the Scottish Government minister for older people and equalities – queried whether the visit would count as “essential work” under Covid rules.

Former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, said Johnson should not just “stand around for staged photoshoots” and questioned if there was any good reason for the visit.

Jack dismissed the criticism as “utter nonsense”, and told Scotland’s The Herald newspaper: “He is visiting Scotland for very good reasons; the details of the visit are not being released for security purposes.”

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said:”It remains the fact that it is a fundamental role of the PM to be the physical representative of the UK government”.

The spokesperson added: “It is right that he is visible and accessible to businesses, communities and the public across all parts of the UK, especially during the pandemic.”


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