Ministers must level with Britons that summer holidays abroad may not be possible unless other countries make better progress on vaccination, senior MPs have warned.
Downing Street now believes there is little prospect of mass international tourism this summer, though insiders said they were hopeful about staycations in Britain. “Internally the view is that UK holidays may be possible depending on the circumstances but going abroad is very unlikely,” a government source said.
On Monday Boris Johnson said he was “optimistic” about summer breaks but insiders said he was referring to holidays within the UK. Other cabinet ministers have warned it is too early to book overseas trips.
Yvette Cooper, chair of the home affairs select committee, said it was vital that Britain’s immunisation programme was protected. “The vaccine programme is immensely important and we need to make sure it’s protected against any threat from new variants, and there may be others as we go forward,” she told the Guardian.
“The government should be honest with us about how long these measures may need to last if new variants are spreading around the world. All of us are desperate for some holidays and some sunshine but the government should not be making false promises again.”
Following a bitter dispute with the EU over vaccine supplies, Matt Hancock said on Monday that the UK could be generous in sharing its supply of vaccines. The former Labour minister, Chris Bryant, who chairs the Commons committee on standards, said it was in the UK’s interests to be open with its vaccine supply to facilitate international travel and protect against the spread of new variants.