The Home Secretary Priti Patel has admitted that she wanted borders to be closed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK in March 2020.
The startling admission was made in a call to Conservative Party supporters. In a recording, leaked to Guido Fawkes, the Home Secretary says: “On ‘should we have closed our borders earlier’ the answer is yes, I was an advocate of closing them last March”.
The admission puts the Home Secretary in conflict with the Prime Minister, after he decided to keep the country’s borders open. A quarantine system was introduced for all arrivals into the UK in June 2020. Travel corridors, introducing exceptions to the quarantine requirement, were launched in July.
Only since January 2021 have travellers been required to provide a negative Covid test result before travelling to the UK.
New strains of the virus, including from South Africa and Brazil, have been detected in the UK over the past couple of months.
Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds responded to the leaked audio, saying: “This is a shocking admission from the Home Secretary about the Government’s failure to secure the UK’s borders against Covid.
“Priti Patel’s admission, coupled with the complete lack of strategy for testing of travellers, means that the Government has left our doors open to the virus and worrying mutations.
“Ministers now need to – urgently – review and overhaul border policy, whilst taking responsibility for the huge damage their incompetence has done to our national safety and security.”