Angela Merkel’s demand to quarantine British tourists is ‘unjustified’, says Cabinet minister

Jun 24, 2021
Angela Merkel’s demand to quarantine British tourists is 'unjustified', says Cabinet minister

Yesterday, travel industry workers descended on Westminster in protest at restrictions – AP

Angela Merkel’s demand for EU countries to impose quarantine on British tourists is not “justified”, a Cabinet minister has said.

Boris Johnson is convening his ‘Covid O’ committee this afternoon, where he is expected to approve plans for fully vaccinated people to be able to travel to amber list countries later this summer and not be subject to quarantine when they return home.

The Balearic Islands, Malta and some Caribbean islands could also be added to the green list.

However the German Chancellor has threatened to scupper hopes of holidaymakers, suggesting that EU countries introduce mandatory quarantine for travelling Britons.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, told LBC: “I’m not sure that such an approach would be justified given the highly advanced stage we are currently at now in terms of vaccination, with 80 per cent having had one jab and now 60 per cent having had the second jab.

“I don’t think such a move would be justified but obviously it’s for individual countries to make these judgments.”

​​Follow the latest updates below.

08:04 AM

Planet Normal tackles the trans athlete debate

On this week’s Planet Normal podcast, the selection of the world’s first transgender athlete is in the spotlight. After weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who has previously competed in male events, was announced as part of New Zealand’s women’s team, developmental biologist Dr Emma Hilton joins co-hosts Allison Pearson and Liam Halligan.

Dr Hilton, the co-author of a study published in the Sports Medicine journal suggesting that a strength advantage is retained following a transition from male to female, tells listeners why she believes strict guidelines on who can compete in sporting events are essential for just competition.

“You need look no further than the Paralympics, which is the ultimate exclusionary sport.. And that’s done to ensure fairness,” she says.

Listen to the interview in full below.

08:00 AM

Madeline Grant: Gone are the doomy graphs of yesteryear

Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference was meant to give a booster jab to the national morale; encouraging the last anti-vax stragglers to end their resistance once and for all, and urging the country to sit tight for a few more weeks, writes Madeline Grant.

But it also delivered a world-class boost for Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, who bathed in the glory of this world-beating, and conversation-ending, success.

No change in policy was announced; but no matter. This wasn’t so much a press conference as a victory lap – a mass back-slapping exercise.

Read more from Madeline here.

07:58 AM

Environment Secretary hits out at ‘caricature’ of PM’s inaction on climate

George Eustice has hit out at a “caricature” that Boris Johnson is not genuinely committed to grappling with climate change.

This morning the Climate Change Committee, an advisory group, said they were “very concerned by the gulf between promises and actions”. His “remarkable” climate leadership is undermined by inadequate policies and poor implementation, the group added.

But the Environment Secretary said: “This is an agenda that matters to the Prime Minister and it is not true to say he has just made a promise that he isn’t [meeting].

“I am a current Cabinet member and get to see exactly what the Prime Minister is doing and how much priority he places on this, and I can reassure you that he places a great deal of priority and emphasis on this.”

07:29 AM

Sausage war ‘truce’ in sight, says Cabinet minister

There have been “positive indications” that a truce will be reached in the “sausage war” trade dispute with the European Union, George Eustice said.

The Telegraph revealed yesterday a ceasefire could be reached within days.

The Environment Secretary appeared to agree, telling LBC: “I think we are getting some positive indications and it’s always our view that it’s better if we can reach agreement with the European Union on these things.

“It didn’t make any sense to simply say that there’s a ban on the sale of sausages to Northern Ireland, we’re still in dialogue with the European Union about some longer-term solutions on the wider issues around export health certificates.

“While those are ongoing, I think it makes sense for them, just for a few more months, to leave the current arrangement we have in place.”

07:24 AM

George Galloway: Andy Burnham more electable than ‘catatonic’ Sir Keir Starmer

Andy Burnham should replace Sir Keir Starmer if Labour is to have any chance of becoming electable again, George Galloway has said.

Mr Galloway, a former MP who was expelled from Labour and is now running against the party in the forthcoming Batley and Spen by-election, said Sir Keir was a “catatonic, desiccated calculating machine” and Mr Burnham would be a better opposition leader.

Read our interview with him here.

07:19 AM

Angela Merkel’s call to impose quarantine on British tourists ‘unjustified’

Angela Merkel’s call for more European countries to impose quar antine on British tourists is unjustified, a Cabinet minister has said.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, told LBC: “Each country is taking their own decisions on this, so it will be for them to judge what approach they want to take.

“I’m not sure that such an approach would be justified given the highly advanced stage we are currently at now in terms of vaccination, with 80% having had one jab and now 60% having had the second jab.

“I don’t think such a move would be justified but obviously it’s for individual countries to make these judgments.”

Read what the German Chancellor said here.

07:17 AM

The countries that could go green, amber and red today

Another week, another traffic light update.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is expected to reveal what changes will be made to our holiday traffic lights this afternoon.

The changes will then come into effect from Tuesday 4am next week.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, dropped some hints that islands could be added to the green list – but which are the most likely, and what other changes are we expecting?

Find out here.

07:14 AM

Queen calls Matt Hancock ‘poor man’ as she restarts in-person audience with PM

The confidential nature of the Queen’s weekly audiences with her serving prime minister has always been highly prized.

But a brief clip of Her Majesty receiving Boris Johnson on Wednesday offered a rare insight into the historic meetings, as she revealed Matt Hancock had told her: “Things are getting better.”

The Queen, 95, described the Health Secretary as a “poor man,” an apparent reference to the pressure he has faced throughout the pandemic.

A royal aide insisted that her comments were not choreographed, saying: “It was a natural conversation.”

07:11 AM

Russia acting like a ‘rogue state’, claims former Royal Navy chief

Russian forces firing ‘warning shots’ at a Royal Navy warship in waters off Crimea are the actions of a “rogue state”, a former Royal Navy chief has said.

Lord Alan West said the Russian president’s behaviour was “dangerous and stupid”.

“The bottom line is Putin is an expert at disinformation and his actions are very reckless, and we’ve seen that now for three or four years,” he told LBC. “His behaviour is appalling. There’s no doubt the (HMS) Defender was asserting her right of innocent passage from one port to another.

“Putin wants to play to his home audience, he wants to tell them ‘aren’t I tough, look at that, I’ve made Britain go away’, and that’s why I think they lied about firing warning shots at the defender – which they didn’t do.

“As per usual, I’m afraid, Putin’s organisation is lying about that…. I would say it’s the behaviour of a rogue state, but Russia shouldn’t be a rogue state,” he said.

07:08 AM

Royal family ‘good value for money’, says Cabinet minister

The royal family offers value for money to the British taxpayer despite the £87.5 million cost during 2020/21, Cabinet minister George Eustice said.

The Environment Secretary told Sky News: “I think the system that we have with a constitutional monarchy is way better than all the alternatives, better than presidential systems.

“It means you have that stability, you have a monarch that can bring the country together.

“I think the royal family is good value for money. It’s a vital part of our constitution, always has been.”

His comments come as it emerged that the Prince of Wales gave Prince Harry a substantial sum to help set up his life outside the family, contradicting the Duke of Sussex’s account given during his interview with Oprah.

07:05 AM

UK ‘needs a bigger Navy’ to counter threats to international waters, says senior Tory

The chair of the defence committee has warned that “cede” ownership of international waters to China “they have won”.

Tobias Ellwood said yesterday’s events were “dramatic and provocative” but that we “shouldn’t get spooked”. However it was illustrative about rising threats from Moscow and Beijing that must be taken seriously.

“Absolutely we must defend international waters… we probably are going to need a bigger Navy given the threats we face.”

He noted how quickly the Russian disinformation campaign kicked off after the clash with HMS Destroyer, adding: “Putin likes nothing more than being talked about.”

Highlighting that 90 per cent of our goods come by ship, he added: “Freedom of navigation of the seas has become ever more problematic, it requires constant policing, a consistent presence -if you leave a vacuum it gets filled by authoritarian states.”

06:57 AM

Environment Secretary ready to ‘shed face mask’ on July 19

George Eustice has said he will “shed” his face mask when England’s restrictions are lifted on July 19.

The Environment Secretary confirmed that stage four will see the end of the legal requirement, including to wear coverings on public transport and other indoor areas, as The Telegraph noted yesterday.

“Now, whether there will still be some people who might choose to wear masks or whether it may be advisory in some settings, that’s a separate matter,” he added. “But the objective of that final stage is to remove the legal requirement to do these things.”

Asked if he would still wear a mask once restrictions end, Mr Eustice said: “I wouldn’t, no.

“I have to be honest, once I’m told that it’s safe not to, I want to get back to normal. I think a lot of people will want to shed those masks. “

06:54 AM

UK would take same Black Sea passage, despite clash with Russia, minister says

UK warships would be prepared to sail again through the disputed waters around Crimea, a Cabinet minister has said.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, insisted that no warning shots were fired at HMS Defender by Russian vessels, but a “gunnery exercise” was conducted in the area and defended the right of passage “through Ukranian waters”.

He told Sky News: “I think it’s important people don’t get carried away.”

Asked if the Royal Navy would sail in those waters again, he said “of course, yes”, adding: “We never accepted the annexation of Crimea, these were Ukrainian territorial waters.”

06:39 AM

Holidays in doubt after ‘quarantine the British’ demand

Angela Merkel on Wednesday night threatened to scupper hopes of foreign holidays in Europe this summer by demanding that EU countries introduce mandatory quarantine for travelling Britons.

The German chancellor urged countries to introduce the quarantine for vaccinated Britons just as the UK Government is finally preparing to relax its rules for returning holidaymakers.

Her intervention came ahead of a key meeting on Thursday at which Boris Johnson is expected to approve plans for fully vaccinated people to be able to travel to amber list countries later this summer and not be subject to quarantine when they return home.

The Balearic Islands, Malta and some Caribbean islands could also be added to the green list.

06:39 AM

Good Morning

We’ve got another busy day ahead, with the long-awaited green list announcement expected this afternoon, a debate on the Australia free trade agreement negotiations in the House of Lords and the fall out from the Russian ‘gunnery exercise’.

We may also hear from the Prime Minister.

Here is today’s front page.

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