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Starmer challenges PM on earlier border closures after Home Secretary’s admission

2 min read
20 January 2021 | UK NEWS

The Home Secretary told the Prime Minister that he should close the borders back in March, a recorded video call has revealed.

Online blog Guido Fawkes released a recorded audio clip of Priti Patel claiming that she believed the borders should have been closed earlier. Tougher border restrictions have only been introduced more recently in order to combat new strains of the virus.

The call that Ms Patel was addressing was with the Conservative Friends of India group on Tuesday night.

On the recording, Ms Patel is heard saying: “On ‘should we have closed our borders earlier’? The answer is yes. I was an advocate of closing them last March.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked Boris Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions about the Home Secretary’s comments. He asked why Boris Johnson had “overruled the Home Secretary” and not chosen to close the borders when Ms Patel had suggested it.

The Prime Minister replied by arguing that the UK has “instituted one of the toughest border regimes in the world”, and said the leader of the Labour Party was “looking backwards, playing politics and sniping from the side-lines”.

He also reminded the Leader of the Opposition that he himself had not been an advocate of closing the borders last year.

However, the Prime Minister did not address the decision at the time not to close the borders.

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said that Ms Patel’s admission was “shocking” and had “left our doors open to the virus and worrying mutations”.

He added: “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.”

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