Boris Johnson Refuses To Say Why He Overruled Priti Patel To Keep UK Borders Open

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 20 Jan 2021 15:48
Boris Johnson Refuses To Say Why He Overruled Priti Patel To Keep UK Borders OpenPA Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to explain why he overruled Home Secretary Priti Patel in deciding to keep the UK’s international borders open at the beginning of the pandemic.

Johnson avoided the question twice when asked by Sir Kier Starmer in the Commons earlier today, January 20.


The Labour leader asked, ‘Why did [Johnson] overrule his home secretary, who claims she said, last March, that we should shut down borders?’

Instead of answering question, Johnson once again branded Starmer ‘Captain Hindsight’, and highlighted that the Labour leader didn’t call for the border closure himself.

It comes after Patel revealed she had advocated for the closure of the borders back in March, when cases first began to spike here in Britain.


The comments, which were first reported by the Guido Fawkes website, were made during a Zoom meeting for the Conservative Friends of India yesterday, January 19.

‘On should we have closed our borders earlier? The answer is yes, I was an advocate [of] closing them last March,’ Patel said, as per The Guardian.

Priti PatelPA Images

The decision not to shut the borders without ‘any scientific evidence’ backing it up, has been cited by many as the reason behind the catastrophic COVID-19 death toll seen in the UK.


It was just last week, 10 months into the pandemic, when the PM announced the suspension of travel corridors in a bid to ‘protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains’.

This means that anyone who lands in the UK from another country must show proof of a negative COVID test prior to their journey, before quarantining for 10 days after arrival, unless they test negative after five days.

So-called travel corridors allowed international arrivals from certain countries, which carried low COVID rates at the time, to land into the UK without the need to quarantine on arrival.

Boris Johnson Refuses To Say Why He Overruled Priti Patel To Keep UK Borders OpenPA Images

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Patel’s ‘shocking admission’ coupled with ‘the complete lack of strategy for testing of travellers, means that the government has left our doors open to the virus and worrying mutations’.

‘Ministers now need to urgently review and overhaul border policy, whilst taking responsibility for the huge damage their incompetence has done to our national safety and security,’ he added.

In response, a spokesperson for Home Office said, ‘We have strong measures in place at the border, which are vital as we roll out the vaccine.’

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: News, Boris Johnson, Coronavirus, Now, Priti Patel


  1. Guardian

    Priti Patel says she wanted UK borders shut last March