Nicola Sturgeon ‘threatens to block’ UK’s air bridges plan
AIR bridges faced a last minute hitch last night as ministers scrambled to reassure Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the measures.
No10 held meetings yesterday with the devolved administrations that are cautious about abandoning the border quarantine policy.
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Nicola Sturgeon is said to be “really objecting” to lifting the measures without being properly consulted.
And this morning Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “”I am very keen to get the devolved administrations, including Scotland on board, so we can get this thing announced.”
One industry source said: “The government really wants to make sure Scotland is onside – they do not want another case of mixed messages coming across the border.”
Yesterday the First Minister said if she blocks the measures it will be because she has “very seriously looked at the evidence and decided that isn’t necessary – not for political or constitutional reasons – but necessary from the point of view of tackling the virus.”
But No10 insisted last night the meeting was routine and there was “no drama” over the issue.
A spokesman added the meeting was arranged so devolved administrations were informed of the policy so they could “implement bits of it slightly differently” if they wanted.
A SNP source said: “We weren’t consulted when this measure was brought in, but we must ensure we make the right decision.”
There would be no powers to prevent Scots going to England to take flights abroad if Nicola Sturgeon did block the plans north of the border.
The row with Holyrood comes as Boris tore into the First Minister after she suggested English people might have to quarantine in Scotland.
Boris labelled her comments “absolutely astonishing” and added: “There is no such thing as a border between England and Scotland.
“There have been no such discussions with the Scottish administration about that but I would point out what he knows very well – there is no such thing as a border between England and Scotland.”
The row has set back the announcement by a number of days with government officials promising the details to the travel industry, along with new guidance by Wednesday.
Travel consultant Paul Charles told The Sun: “If the announcement comes on Friday there will be very little time for the travel industry to get itself sorted by the Monday.
“The industry is facing a real logistical nightmare and is annoyed after taking the government announcements last week at face value.”
Tui – Britain’s largest travel firm – needs 10 days’ notice of a change to FCO advice in order to plan properly.
The delay comes as Home Office officials admitted they haven’t made any estimates on the number of people who could bring the virus into the UK abroad.
Shona Dunn, second permanent secretary to the Home Office said: “I don’t believe anyone has asked for that number to be pinned down” when asked about the potential risk.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper said it was “quite baffling” the data had not been obtained.
However Turkey is expecting to be included on the list of safe covid nations allowing Brits to jet off to the destination on holiday next week.
The nation’s ambassador to the UK said that his country believes it will be among those to form ‘air bridges’ when the announcement is made by Downing Street.
Turkey will join the likes of France, Italy and Spain, with Foreign Office travel advice to change allowing people to go abroad for the first time since March.
Turkey’s ambassador Umit Yalcin insisted it is safe to open up travel with Turkey despite a recent spike in cases after lockdown restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19 were eased – and that cases had been away from it’s Aegean resorts.
He said: ”I’m optimistic because we are expecting to be included in that list because, scientifically, the facts and figures should talk and the numbers related to corona for Turkey is very low.
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“All the numbers relatively and comparatively with other countries are very low, especially in touristic areas in the Aegean and Mediterranean coast the numbers are zero.
“Because of that reason we are expected to be included on that list.”Since June 8, all passengers – bar a handful of exemptions – have been required to go into self-isolation for 14 days when they arrive in the UK.
People who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England, and police are allowed to use “reasonable force” to make sure they follow the rules.
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