Boris under pressure to fix foreign holidays FAST! Ministers urge PM to expand 'green list'


Boris Johnson is today facing a Cabinet revolt amid fears just a handful of holiday destinations will be opened up this month.

Senior ministers are battling over the size of the travel ‘green list’ from May 17 – leaving millions of Britons in limbo as they wonder whether to book trips.

Gibraltar and Malta could be on the list – but most of Europe and the US are set to remain out of bounds amid fears over variant strains.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Chris Whitty are said to be among those pushing for the green-rated states to be kept to an absolute minimum.

But other Cabinet ministers are reportedly urging a looser approach, insisting that with the outbreak under in the UK and vaccines making strong progress the government has no right to keep curbing freedoms.

Portugal is one country that could be added, with advocates saying infections and the risk of variants is now very low there.  

Meanwhile, a cross-party group of MPs has insisted that holidays should be discouraged even once they become legal in a fortnight’s time.

Thomas Cook chief executive Alan French tried to strike a more positive note about the prospects for later in the summer, saying there is ‘great progress’ in preparing destinations such as Portugal and Spain for the return of holidaymakers. 

Boris Johnson is today facing pressure from ministers to expand the travel 'green list' and give millions of Britons hopes of a holiday abroad this summer. Pictured: A beach in Malaga, Spain

Boris Johnson is today facing pressure from ministers to expand the travel ‘green list’ and give millions of Britons hopes of a holiday abroad this summer. Pictured: A beach in Malaga, Spain

Ministers are reportedly set to challenge the Prime Minister (pictured) today over the number of countries placed on the travel 'green list'

Ministers are reportedly set to challenge the Prime Minister (pictured) today over the number of countries placed on the travel ‘green list’

The Government is expected to announce as early as this week the first countries that Britons can visit without having to quarantine – but the list is only believed to include a handful of destinations.

The so-called ‘green list’ will be updated every three weeks, raising the prospect that new countries – including popular destinations in Europe – will be announced before the end of this month.

For much of the country, the half-term break starts on May 31.

Under the traffic-light system for foreign travel, those returning from green countries will not need to quarantine but will have to take two Covid tests – one before they return to the UK, which can be either a lateral flow or PCR test, and a PCR test on the second day after they arrive back.

Under the traffic-light system for foreign travel, those returning from green countries will not need to quarantine but will have to take two Covid tests – one before they return to the UK, which can be either a lateral flow or PCR test, and a PCR test on the second day after they arrive back.

Families are set to get the go-ahead to take summer holidays in some popular European hotspots before the end of the month (Gibraltar pictured)

Families are set to get the go-ahead to take summer holidays in some popular European hotspots before the end of the month (Gibraltar pictured)

Sources say the so-called 'green list' will be updated every three weeks, raising the prospect that new countries – including popular destinations in Europe

Sources say the so-called ‘green list’ will be updated every three weeks, raising the prospect that new countries – including popular destinations in Europe

Those who return from countries designated as either amber or red will still have to quarantine, either at home or in a hotel, and have three compulsory tests. Government officials are debating whether to stick to previous policy plans of having all children under 11 exempt from having to take the tests.

The majority of European countries are expected to be given amber status this week, but there is optimism that some will turn green when the list is next updated.

The ban on overseas holidays will end on May 17, along with the threat of fines for attempting to travel without a permitted reason.

But ahead of the lifting of restrictions, a cabinet split has emerged, according to the Times.

Cabinet ministers have privately urged the Prime Minister overrule Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

The pair are said to be pushing Mr Johnson to limit the number of countries on the ‘green list’ to a ‘tiny’ group.  

One government source told the Times: ‘You’ve got the usual hawks on the health side like Matt Hancock and Chris Whitty who are more cautious.’

However another cabinet minister told the paper they were attempting to step in and increase the number of countries on the list.

They said: ‘The government has no right to take people’s freedoms away. It did it because we were in an emergency but these rights don’t belong to the government.’

Mr French suggested that Thomas Cook is hoping for a much broader opening by the peak summer season. 

‘When the holidays proper start at the end of June, we are expecting most of the countries that the UK goes on holiday to – Europe particularly – to be open,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘We are expecting Portugal, Spain, Greece, Croatia and so forth to be open, it would be nice if Turkey was open.

‘When we look at what is going on in those countries, both in terms of infection rates and how they are preparing for holidaymakers, I think there is great progress being made.’

Foreign holidays look set to resume this month as the Government prepares to reveal the 'green list' next week. Ministers are poised to decide next week that foreign holidays can resume from May 17, the next stage at which restrictions ease

Foreign holidays look set to resume this month as the Government prepares to reveal the ‘green list’ next week. Ministers are poised to decide next week that foreign holidays can resume from May 17, the next stage at which restrictions ease

Meanwhile, the all-party parliamentary group on Covid (APPG) today issued a report recommending holidays abroad should be discouraged – even once they are made legal.

In their report, the cross-party group of MPs said: ‘The UK government should discourage all international leisure travel to prevent the importation of new variants into the UK, in order to reduce the risk of a third wave and further lockdowns.

‘This recommendation should be implemented immediately and reviewed on a quarterly basis.’

The group have insisted the Government keep restrictions and continue to prop-up the travel industry – who could lose billions of pounds if foreign holidays are banned for a second successive year.  

It comes as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday warned that some measures such as masks will be in place into the summer.

While he insisted the UK is ‘turning the corner’ as Covid recedes, he stressed ‘some safeguards’ may remain to ward off a potential further wave of the virus.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘We want to get to the position at the end of June when we can get life back as close to normal as possible, but there will still need to be some safeguards in place.’

Mr Raab later refused to deny there were tensions within the cabinet about easing foreign travel, telling Times Radio: ‘It’s absolutely right that we discuss and debate those issues very carefully. We want to open up, that’s our instinct as a country.

‘We want to be having the travel for social reasons and for economic reasons.

‘On the other hand, obviously it goes without saying we want to make sure we can do it safely. So I think that’s the right approach. It’s a balance.’ 

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