Rishi Sunak urges PM to relax UK travel rules to boost economy

The Chancellor has warned Boris Johnson that the UK's travel restrictions are "out of step" with its international rivals as he pushes for holiday rules to be relaxed.
Rishi Sunak wants travel restrictions to be relaxed.Rishi Sunak wants travel restrictions to be relaxed.
Rishi Sunak wants travel restrictions to be relaxed.

Rishi Sunak has written to the Prime Minister about the damage current border rules are doing to the country's economy, particularly its tourism and hospitality sector, according to the Sunday Times.

He is said to be calling for Britain to take advantage of its successful vaccination programme by opening up further and has reportedly told Mr Johnson the UK's entry and exit rules are "out of step with our international competitors".

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The newspaper quotes a source, who it claims is familiar with the letter, as saying: "Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions."

The report comes before ministers are due to meet next week to set the travel rules that will be in place for most of August.

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Treasury sources did not deny Mr Sunak had written to his Downing Street neighbour but said the communication was not related to next week's review.

The UK government has faced criticism over changes to its border policy during the coronavirus pandemic, with France the latest to be irked after it was placed on a newly-created "amber-plus" list as part of the so-called traffic light system.

The fresh designation, in response to suggestions of growing cases of the Beta variant that was first discovered in South Africa, saw the quarantine exemption for the fully vaccinated scrapped, meaning those returning from France had to quarantine for 10 days.

Analysts have predicted that Spain could be the next country to go on the amber-plus list, in what would be a blow to British tourists given Spain is the UK's most popular tourist destination.

There is speculation that France might be promoted back to amber when the travel lists are updated on August 5, restoring the ability for the double jabbed to skip self-isolation.

No 10 sources said it was too early to speculate on what changes might be made next week, with ministers yet to see the latest data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which assesses the risks presented by international travel.

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They pointed to the decision to open up travel to those who are fully vaccinated coming from the US and European Union as an example of Mr Johnson's own desire to see more open borders in Britain.

Mr Sunak's push for travel restrictions to be softened comes only days after scientists advising the government on coronavirus warned, in papers published on Friday, that any increase in foreign travel this summer is concerning.

Nicola Sturgeon is due to update the Scottish Parliament on Scotland’s Covid situation and restrictions this Tuesday.

Meanwhile the SNP criticised Mr Sunak after his visit to Scotland last week, and his claim that the UK government had a “right” to bypass Holyrood and offer money directly to local authorities.

The SNP said the Tories cannot be trusted to invest in Scotland and said Mr Sunak’s statement was proof of a "naked power grab”.

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