Coronavirus National & International Weekly Roundup

Priti Patel wanted to close borders back in March, reveals leaked tape

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Thousands of lives could have been saved if Britain shut its borders earlier the Homes Secretary confessed in a bombshell leaked tape, according to The Sun.

Priti Patel lifted the lid in an explosive row with Boris Johnson after admitting she tried to lockdown the borders back in March. 

In a secretly recorded address leaked to Guido Fawkes to party faithful on Tuesday night, Patel hit out “should we have closed our borders earlier, the answer is yes, I was an advocate of closing them last March.” 

Though risking the wrath of No10, other Cabinet colleagues leapt to Ms Patel’s defence. 

One senior Cabinet Minister told the Sun: “She was right.”

Back in March, the deadly bug was sweeping through France, Spain and Italy but there were zero restrictions on travel or at the border.

It’s now estimated 10,000 infected people arrived in the UK during the early spring.

At Prime Minister Questions this afternoon Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pressed Boris Johnson over the comments and asked why he over-ruled her.

The PM said: “I think it was last March that Sir Keir along with many others was actually saying that we didn’t need to close borders but, as usual, Captain Hindsight has changed his tune to suit events.”

Speaking about border now he added: “That is why we instituted one of the toughest border regimes in the world, that’s why we insist you have to get a test 72 hours before you fly, there must be a passenger locator form that you have to provide and you must quarantine for 10 days or five days if you do a second test.”

The PM’s Spokesman said he had full confidence in the Home Secretary despite her breaking cabinet rules.

Asked why the PM “ignored” her he said: “I am not going to get into the detail of private conversations.”

On the border measures he added: “Throughout the pandemic. We’ve continued to keep all our decisions and all our restrictions under continuous review, and we haven’t hesitated to take action based on the latest scientific evidence.”

Tory Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat backed Ms Patel saying that “with hindsight, we should have closed the borders last March.”

He added: “I think the government’s been making some very difficult decisions to try and keep an economy open that can pay for the healthcare we all need, at the same time as protecting as many people as possible and protecting lives.” 


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