UK may put all European neighbours on travel red list
Topics: EUROPE UK
ising the possibility of the scheme being extended to countries on the continent, including France and Germany, Tory frontbencher Lord Bethell acknowledged it would be done with "huge regret" and represent "an enormous diplomatic blow".
The Conservative peer made his comments amid a third wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe and a threat by Brussels to block vaccine exports from reaching the UK following struggles with its own rollout.
There has also been scepticism on the continent about the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, due to concerns about links to very rare blood clots, although the European Medicines Agency concluded it was "safe and effective".
Across the EU, just over 10% of adults have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but in the UK the figure is more than 50%.
Bethell sounded his warning on the red list as he defended the operation of the border security system in the face of claims that it was inadequate and inconsistent.
Under the scheme, people who have spent time in a named country in the previous 10 days are banned from entering England, unless they are British or Irish citizens or have residency rights.
Anyone entitled to enter must stay in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.
Travellers arriving from other countries not on the list have to self-isolate at a named address for the same period.
Critics argue this means 99% of passengers coming to the UK are exempt from hotel quarantine and have called for it to apply to all arrivals to prevent the importation of new coronavirus variants.
But Lord Bethell, said: "For those that say we are not doing enough I would remind them that we have taken a absolutely draconian approach to travel."
The minister added: "It is possible that we will have to go further.
"We are watching with enormous sadness the sight of our European neighbours rejecting the vaccine policy.
"They are not embracing the opportunity that a vaccine provides for driving down infection rates and protecting their populations.
"I don't know how that will play out and it's certainly above my pay grade to speculate.
"But we are all aware that the possibility lies that we will have to red list all of our European neighbours.
"But that would be done with huge regret, because we are a trading nation, we do work in partnership with out countries. We depend on other countries for essential supplies, not only medicines, but food and others.
"Although we could put in place a haulier programme that protected our trade routes, it would be an enormous diplomatic blow and one that we would do with huge regret." ■