Covid-19: Starmer asks why PM 'overruled' Priti Patel to keep borders open

20 January 2021, 12:48 | Updated: 20 January 2021, 13:06

Boris Johnson was asked why borders were not closed sooner
Boris Johnson was asked why borders were not closed sooner. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson has insisted the UK has "one of the toughest border regimes in the world" in response to a question asking why he overruled the Home Secretary to keep them open in March.

The UK only brought in the strictest measures on Monday - a full 10 months into the pandemic - which involve arrivals producing a mandatory negative test upon arrival and then quarantining.

It was reported earlier that Priti Patel pushed for borders should to be closed in March, telling a group of Conservative supporters: "On ‘should we have closed our borders earlier’ the answer is yes, I was an advocate of closing them last March."

When asked why she was overruled during PMQs, Mr Johnson called Sir Keir "Captain Hindsight", and berated him for saying borders didn't need to be closed back in the Spring.

Read more: Travel corridors closed in effort to curb Covid-19 case numbers

He added: "We are doing everything we can to protect the British public, which is what I think he would expect, we've instituted one of the toughest border regimes in the world and that's why you have to get a test 72 hours before you fly.

"I'm delighted that he now praises the Home Secretary, in a change of tune, and I'm delighted that he's now in favour of tough border controls.

"Indeed he campaigned for the leadership of the Labour party on a manifesto to get back to free movement".

But unsatisfied with the answer, Sir Keir asked the same question again.

Mr Johnson called him a "weather vane, twisting round and round with the breeze."