Rishi Sunak Pens Letter to Boris Johnson Urging to Ease UK's 'Draconian' Travel Rules, Media Claims
Last month, Paris reacted angrily to the UK's decision to scrap quarantine requirements for all fully vaccinated British travellers arriving from "amber list" countries, except France.
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has called for easing the country's travel restrictions, arguing that Britain's border rules are damaging the nation's economy and tourism, The Times reported on Sunday.
The newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying that Sunak wrote a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in which the chancellor claimed that the UK border policy is "out of step with our [Britain's] international competitors" and fails to take advantage of the successful vaccine rollout in the country.
© REUTERS / JEFF OVERS/BBCBritain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks on BBC TV's The Andrew Marr Show
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks on BBC TV's The Andrew Marr Show
© REUTERS / JEFF OVERS/BBC
One source told The Times that "Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions", while another insider pointed to Sunak's and Johnson's concerns that the government has "got the benefit from vaccinating so many people and yet" it is "an outlier in terms of how draconian" London is "about travel".
The Times report comes before UK cabinet ministers are due to meet next week to set the travel rules that will be in place for most of August.
UK Accused of 'Discrimination' After Keeping France on 'Amber Plus' List
Earlier this week, France's European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune described the UK's recent move to scrap quarantine requirements for all fully vaccinated travellers arriving from Europe except France as "incomprehensible".
"It is a decision that discriminates against the French because other Europeans, even countries that are in more difficult health situations because of the Delta variant or another variant, are not affected by this quarantine", Beaune said in an interview on French television.
The UK government earlier announced that from 19 July onwards, Britons who have received two COVID-19 shots won't need to isolate for ten days upon their return from Portugal, Greece, and a host of other so-called "amber list" countries.
© REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY Arriving passengers queue at UK Border Control at the Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain June 29, 2021
Arriving passengers queue at UK Border Control at the Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain June 29, 2021
© REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY
France, however, was excluded from the list due to the rising number of COVID cases related to the Beta strain of the virus, which was first identified in South Africa and which is believed to be some 50% more transmittable that the original COVID-19 variant.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, for his part, explained that France-related restrictions for travellers had been announced in part because of the high rate of the Beta variant in Reunion, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean.
He spoke as the UK Department for Transport (DfT) said that a "regular review" of the country's travel rules "will allow the government to balance helping the public to understand COVID requirements when travelling to England while allowing us to constantly evaluate the risk for different countries".
In June, the British government tightened travel rules amid concerns over the emerging Nepali mutation of the Indian variant of COVID-19.
23 May 2020, 14:12 GMT
At the time, the DfT decided to move Portugal, including Madeira and the Azores, from green to amber status in order to "safeguard public health against variants of concern and protect our vaccine rollout".
Prime Minister Johnson, in turn, made it clear back then that the government would have "no hesitation" in moving countries off Britain's so-called "green list" if necessary. The list includes nations that British holidaymakers can visit without having to go into quarantine after returning to the UK.