Transport Secretary: Now is the perfect time to bring Brits home

31 March 2020, 13:35 | Updated: 31 March 2020, 13:39

By Seán Hickey

As the UK embarks on its largest repatriation effort since World War II, the Transport Secretary believes the timing is perfect.

Joining Nick Ferrari, Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport claimed that yesterday's announcement by the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was timely and is a fantastic start in the repatriation effort.

Mr. Shapps told Nick that "the key to this to to try get people home commercially" and claimed that the fact that the global aviation industry has taken a massive hit in the past months has opened a door for the UK government to use commercial flights to bring back Britons stuck abroad in a cost effective way.

Referencing the testing effort made in countries like Germany and South Korea, Nick wanted to know why the UK is so far behind in testing.

The Transport Secretary insisted that "antibody tests will be absolutely critical" rather than initial Covid-19 testing at this stage. Mr. Shapps explained to Nick that this new testing will be able to discover whether a person is or isn't immune to the virus.

Transport Secretary: Now is the perfect time to bring Brits home
Transport Secretary: Now is the perfect time to bring Brits home. Picture: PA

The Secretary noted that "every health system has approached this in different ways" and while there is criticism over testing in the UK, German media may be criticising their own government as to why they do not have a hospital pop-up similar to the NHS Nightingale in the ExCel.

Mr. Shapps noted that he must be the only Transport Secretary in British history that is celebrating a reduction in public transport use.

"Rail is down 90%, buses 80%, tubes are down between 70 and 80%" the Secretary revealed. He noted a criticism of the sharp reduction in tube services as a factor in congestion in the early stages of lockdown.

The Secretary of State told Nick that he has no plans to stop transport services, making the point that "it's important that we keep essential parts of the economy going" and the British public transport system is crucial in the upkeep of the economy.