Tory MP: It doesn't seem as if government followed science removing Portugal from green list

3 June 2021, 19:45 | Updated: 3 June 2021, 19:47

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A Conservative MP has told LBC it seems as though the government has not 'followed the science' in a decision to remove Portugal from the green travel list.

This is the moment Iain Dale challenged a Conservative MP over the government's 'shambolic' decision to remove Portugal from the green travel list.

Portugal is set to be added to the amber travel list as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps raised concerns of a new coronavirus mutation and rising cases.

The holiday hotspot, including the islands of Madeira and the Azores, will be removed from the green list exempting the need to quarantine on return from 4am on Tuesday.

"You must be really embarrassed by the incompetence of your own government for failing to explain this decision today?" Iain asked Tory MP Henry Smith.

Mr Smith, Conservative MP for Crawley & Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Aviation said it was "devastating news" for anyone who is employed in the travel sector.

Read more: Portugal moved to UK's amber travel list forcing tourists to quarantine on return

He told LBC the sector "needed this coming summer" to help "save this industry."

But, Iain pointed out to the MP that he hadn't actually answered his question.

"You've completely ignored my question that this is a shambles today that the messaging has been mixed again, there wasn't a clear announcement. They spend hundreds of millions of pounds on communications experts and yet every single time they get it wrong."

In response the Tory MP said that the government had been "told to follow the science and follow the data, and it does seem as though that isn't what has happened today."

Read more: Half of UK adults have received both Covid jabs, new figures show

Watch: Decision not to add more green list countries is 'political' - travel expert

Airlines and travel firms reacted with dismay to the latest Government announcement on foreign holidays, with many saying it risked the summer being ruined for the struggling sector.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: "Ministers spent last month hailing the restart of international travel, only to close it down three weeks later all but guaranteeing another lost summer for the travel sector."

Ministers confirmed Portugal would be placed on the amber list following a meeting between the Westminster and devolved governments, as well as the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

People returning to the UK from Portugal will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days as part of coronavirus restrictions.

Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago will also be placed on the red list, meaning people arriving in the UK from those nations will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights.

In an interview, Mr Shapps said: "I want to be straight with people, it's actually a difficult decision to make, but in the end we've seen two things really which caused concern.

"One is the positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal and the other is there's a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant which has been detected and we just don't know the potential for that to be vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don't want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock."